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With Portraits atid Plans 







FROM 1815 TO 1848 — 1848 TO 1852, . . I 

II. PRUSSIA FROM 1852 TO 1S57, . . .36 




AND IRON,' ..... 66 










iv Contents. 


TREATY OF PRAGUE, . . . . 175 



INEVITABLE, . . . . . 194 



GRAVELOTTE, . . . . 255 

XIV. SEDAN, ...... 279 





THE EMPEROR WILLIAM I., • • • FrOlltispiece 

PRINCE BISMARCK, . . • • • 74 


COUNT VON MOLTKE, ..... 230 


To face 155 


To face 225 


LOTTE, ...... 260 

*,* The Portraits of the Emperor William, Prin'ce Bismarck and 
Count Von Moltke are engraved by permission of Messrs Loescher 
& Petsch ; that of the CuowN Princf, Frederick by permission of 
Messrs Reichard & Lindner. 


This book deals especially with a period of German 
history of twenty-three years' duration. Beginning with 
the French Revolution of 1848 it records the rousing in 
Germany of passions long pent-up, and, for the time, 
difficult to be controlled or directed ; the manner in 
which these passions were eventually mastered ; the 
great void and the fierce longing they left behind 
them ; the use made by one of the chief Powers of 
Germany of the feelings and aspirations thus dormant, 
and, finally, the complete reversal, by the means employed 
by that Power, of the positions held in Europe till that 
period by Austria and Prussia on the one side, by France 
and Germany on the other. 

During this period of twenty-three years there occurred 
in Europe five wars ; and although, of those five wars, 
two, the Crimean war and the Franco-Austrian war 
require in this volume but a cursory notice, the other 
three, viz., the Danish war, the Austro-Prussian war, 
and the Franco-German war constitute the three steps 
which made possible the refounding of the German 
Empire. The second and third of these wars would 

viii Preface 

have been impossible without their predecessor. For 
if the first of the three, the Danish war, may be re- 
garded as a small thing — the whole of Germany being 
pitted against the smallest country in Europe — it was, 
nevertheless, the necessary prelude to the wars that 
followed. That war, and the two greater wars of 1866 
and 1870, had been predetermined in the mind of the 
regenerator of Germany before a shot in the first had 
been fired. The initial war, in fact, was needed to cause 
the second ; the second to produce the third. The 
Danish war, then, far from being a war of secondary 
importance, was the first act of a deliberately planned 
system ; the first consequence of the introduction of that 
policy of 'Blood and Iron' which, in one of his earliest 
speeches to the Prussian parliament. Count Bismarck 
declared to be necessary for the solution of the great 
questions which were agitating Germany. 

The writer of a book professing to deal with these 
subjects had, therefore, to record (ist) the effect in 
Germany of that outburst in Paris of February 1848, 
which acted as a match to the inflamed imaginations of 
the populations of the great centres of thought in the 
Fatherland ; (2d) the manner in which that outbreak 
seized hold of the German mind ; how it was viewed by 
princes and peoples ; the action it induced ; the several 
movements that followed ; the precipitancy of the mob, 
and the patient waiting of sovereigns ; until the fire of 
the movement had been spent, and the sovereigns were 
enabled to recover all that they had temporarily lost. It 
will then be shown how the popular feeling, though crushed 
for the time, never died out ; how it remained, a remini- 
scence full of hope, to encourage those to whom the 

Preface ix 

prospect of German Unity had ever been a living ideal ; 
how, again, the feelings and aspirations which had been 
aroused were, whilst still dormant, utilised by politicians 
to prepare a machine which, placing the necessary power 
in the hands of men who knew their own minds, who had 
a fixed policy, and who were to be deterred by no scruples, 
would, at the proper time, deal the blows which were to 
secure for Germany the union which had been her dream ; 
how the policy of ' Blood and Iron ' was invented for that 
end ; how other Powers, not in Germany alone, played 
into the hands of the masters of the machine. Then will 
follow the story of the wars which had been planned. 
It will be told finally, how, in 1871, the adventurous but 
far-sighted policy was crowned with success. 

In preparing a continuous account of this policy 
and of these events the main difficulty of the writer 
has been to compress in the allotted number of pages 
events so momentous and so diverging : the diverse 
actions of Austria, of Prussia, of the German Diet, of 
France, of Italy. The battles of the three wars above 
noted — the secret plans and hopes of the several Courts 
have all demanded the most careful study. How diffi- 
cult it has been to give a sufficiently clear description of 
the several battles, many of them of the first importance, 
may be gathered from the fact that Major Henderson, 
the most eminent of the younger officers of the British 
army, has devoted to the consideration of only one battle, 
that of Spicheren, a number of words at least equal to the 
whole of those contained in this volume.^ 

' ' The Battle of Spicheren,' by Brevet-Major Henderson. This volume 
counts three hundred pages, but, in the type of this volume, the contents would 
require a few pages more. 

X Preface 

I am bound to add that in Major Henderson's volume 
I do not find a single redundant page. It is throughout 
admirable ; for the military student invaluable. I call 
attention to the fact simply to illustrate the difficulty 
of a writer who has to describe, within a given compass 
equal to that considered by Major Henderson neces- 
sary for one battle, not one only, but many battles, 
some of them of even greater importance than Spicheren, 
for they were more decisive of the war. The author 
has been forced then to endeavour to produce, by bold 
and correct outlines, results which may atone for want 
of detail. He would fain hope that he has succeeded 
in producing such sketches of the principal battles as 
will convey a clear meaning of the movements on both 
sides to the general reader. With respect to some of 
them, those of 1866 in particular, he has enjoyed the 
advantage of a personal acquaintance with many officers 
who served in the campaign of Bohemia, and he can 
confidently assert that, although his account of that 
campaign may differ in some details from the story 
told by some English writers, it will be accepted in 
Vienna as the true one. He may add that a distin- 
guished foreign officer, whom he consulted this year, 
has endorsed every word of it. 

Regarding the political events, also, the writer is not 
without personal experience. He was in Westphalia 
in the summer and autumn of 1858, and again during 
1863-4, and witnessed the growing discontent of large 
classes of the people, and their distrust of Count Bis- 
marck. There never was a policy so unpopular as that 
involved by the military system of Von Roon ; never 
a minister so detested as was Bismarck. The war of 

Preface xi 

1866 was, in its inception, nowhere so unpopular as 
in Prussia. But success atoned for everything. All 
the previous high-handed measures of the ministry 
were forgotten, and the annexations and other advan- 
tages which followed it produced the most complete 
revulsion in the public mind with regard to the minister 
theretofore so detested. 

With respect to events generally, the writer has 
consulted all the German, and many of the English 
and French works written on the subject. He has 
also been allowed to peruse journals of some of the 
actors, hitherto unpublished. To all he is greatly 
indebted. But he is bound to admit that he has met 
with no writer whose knowledge of the incidents which 
led to the war of 1866 is so ample, or whose con- 
clusions are so just, as those of Sir Alexander Malet, 
at the time H.M.'s Envoy Extraordinary and Minister 
Plenipotentiary at Frankfort. In his book, 'The Over- 
throw of the Germanic Confederation by Prussia in 
1866,' the keys of the Foreign Office at Berlin are 
placed in the readers' hands, and the mind of the 
statesman who, after excluding Austria from Germany, 
completed his policy of ' Thorough ' by the humiliation 
of France, is laid, an open book, before the generation 
that witnessed ' the refounding of the German Empire.' 

G. B. M. 

The Refounding of the 
German Empire 


1815 TO 1848 — FROM 1848 TO 1852. 

The Holy Roman Empire, founded by Charlemagne, 
and dating from Christmas day 800, died on the 6th of 
August 1806. It had lived just over a thousand years. 
The hopes of the great Charles that the sceptre would 
descend in perpetuity to members of his own family had 
not been realised. The family became extinct in 911. 
From that date the numerous dukes and counts who had 
been content to serve as officers of the imperial court 
asserted their independence, and with it the right to 
elect their supreme overlord. The method of election, 
under the arrangement originally settled, was gradually 
found to be in practice crude, unwieldy, and unworkable. 
In the thirteenth century, then, the electoral basis was 
narrov/ed by restricting the voting power to seven of 
the most influential magnates of the land. In 1648 the 
number was increased to eight, and in 1692 to nine. 
It was reduced to eight in 1777, but the peace of Lun(^- 
ville (February 9, 1801) increased it to ten. From the 
year 1407 onwards the electing body had, with rare 


2 The Reiuinciation of Francis I. 

exceptions, conferred the dignity on the representative 
of the House of Habsburg. 

AHke in his capacity as Emperor of Germany and 
the hereditary ruler of the several States he had 
inherited from his ancestors, the Emperor Francis 
II. had taken a prominent part in the wars of 
the French Revolution. Up to the year 1796 the 
victories gained and the defeats sustained by his 
armies and those of his allies were not very un- 
evenly balanced. In 1795 the tide had seemed to 
turn rather decisively in his and their favour, but in 
the following year the genius of Napoleon Bonaparte 
turned the scale very effectually against him. The same 
genius forced him the year immediately following to 
accept a peace ' by which he yielded the Low Countries 
and the Ionian islands to France, and Milan, Mantua, 
and Modena to the newly formed Cisalpine republic, 
receiving, by a secret article, Venice as compensation. 
The war was renewed a year later, Bonaparte was 
absent in Egypt, and Austria, powerfully aided by 
Russia, carried at the outset all before her. The return 
of Bonaparte on the 9th of October, his successful blow 
at the existing constitution exactly one month later, his 
nomination as First Consul, and, finally and chiefly, the 
campaign of Marengo, changed into despair the bright 
hopes to which the earlier successes of the war had given 
birth at Vienna. The peace of Luneville which followed 
confirmed the advantages to France obtained by the 
preceding treaty, and in addition secured for her a 
preponderating influence in western Germany. The 
conditions imposed by the conqueror were lenient. It 
was the__only_ time, if we may except the conditions 
reo-arding Russia of the treaty of Tilsit, when the young 

1 Treaty of Campo Formio, Octoljer 17, 1797. 

The Consequences of Austerlitz. 3 

conqueror whose work it was showed consideration to 
a defeated enemy. His subsequent words and acts 
proved that he had come to beheve that in displaying 
that consideration he had made a blunder. 

The peace between France and Austria lasted four 
years. Meanwhile the conqueror of Marengo had become 
Emperor of the French (May 18, 1804), and the Emperor 
Francis of Germany had, nearly three months later, as- 
sumed, by letters patent, the position of hereditary 
Emperor of Austria, under the title of F"rancis I. 
(August II, 1804). When he assumed the rank and 
position of Emperor of the French, Napoleon was, and 
for some time previously had been, engaged in making 
gigantic preparations for the invasion of England. He 
was still pushing forward these preparations when, on 
the 5th of August 1805, the Emperor Francis, yielding 
to the solicitations of Pitt, declared war against him. 
How Napoleon, with marvellous skill, suddenly trans- 
ferred his army from the shores of the ocean to southern 
Germany, how he compelled one Austrian army to 
capitulate at Ulm, and completely defeated another 
allied with the Russians, on the anniversary of his 
coronation (December 2) at Austerlitz, need not be 
told here in detail. Napoleon had prefaced the war by 
telling his soldiers that he would not again spare the 
enemy to whom he had been too merciful at Campo 
Formio and at Luneville, and he kept his word. The 
treaty of Pressburg, the consequence of Austerlitz, rent 
Venice from Austria, transferred to Bavaria Tirol, Voral- 
berg, the principality of Eichstadt, and part of the 
Bishopric of Passau ; to Baden the greater part of the 
Brisgau, with Constance ; to Wiirtemberg Augsburg and 
a portion of Suabia. The Electors of Bavaria and 
Wiirtemberg became kings, and Baden was recognised 

4 The Confederation of the Rhine : 

as a sovereign State. In the words of the latest English 
historian ^ of the period : ' The constitution of the empire 
ceased to exist even in name.' 

But another and a fiercer blow directed against that 
constitution was to follow. Napoleon employed the 
comparative leisure which followed the signature of 
the peace of Pressburg (December 26, 1805) to devise a 
still more potent method for crippling Germany. On 
the ruins of the empire he had broken up he designed to 
constitute in Germany a new power, independent alike 
of Austria and Prussia, pushed in as a wedge between 
the two, a province of France in all but in name, and de- 
riving from France all its motive power. He worked at 
this project with his accustomed energy during the earlier 
months of i8o6. In July of that year he had arranged 
every detail. Sixteen prominent princes of western and 
southern Germany declared their separation from the 
German Empire and Emperor, and formed under the 
protection of the French Emperor, a league to be 
styled ' The Confederation of the Rhine.' On the 6th 
of August, the Emperor Francis, under the pressure of 
Napoleon, dissolved by decree the Germanic confedera- 
tion, and formally abdicated his title as chief of the 
Holy Roman Empire. Before the close of the year the 
adhesion of Saxony had brought within that league 
almost every German who was not either Austrian or 
Prussian.2 fhe territories thus amalgamated for offence 
and defence became virtually a French province. They 
counted a population of more than fourteen millions, and 
had an extent of over 125,000 square miles. The military 
forces they disposed of, fixed after the union of Saxony at 

1 Fyffe's History of Modern Euiope, Vol. I. page 300. 

- In December 1806 the Confederation consisted of France, Bavaria, 
Wiirtemberg, Saxony, and Westphalia, seven grand duchies, six duchies, 
and twenty principalities. 

Its Strength and its Weakness. 5 

1 19,180 men, were drilled by French officers. The frontiers 
were regarded to all intents as the frontiers of France. 
The Confederation, thrust into the very heart of Ger- 
many, was a standing menace to Austria and Prussia. 
Its formation, from the standpoint of the actual moment, 
seemed to its author and to Europe generally to be the 
outcome of the highest political genius. With the con- 
sent of a great part of Germany Napoleon had, it seemed, 
rendered German union against France for ever impos- 
sible. Nor can it be doubted that the German people 
admitted within the Confederation derived great imme- 
diate advantages from the amalgamation. Justice was 
made easy to all ; the taxes were spread in more even pro- 
portions over the several classes ; whilst to the ambitious 
a career was opened such as, under the petty govern- 
ments which had been swept away, had been impossible. 

Yet it can scarcely be doubted now that the measure 
in the form it took was adverse to the interests of France; 
that it really contributed, and greatly, to the cause of 
German unity. The existence of the Confederation was 
only possible under the condition of continued success 
on the field of battle. The campaign of 18 12 in Russia, 
still more the campaign of 1813 in Germany, proved 
the instability of the foundations on which it rested. 
Nor was the evil — to France — confined to the sudden 
disaffection which immediately preceded and immedi- 
ately followed the battle of Lcipsig. The Confederation 
had introduced into the very heart of Germany that 
power of combination for the cause of national union 
which we have seen fructify in our own day. There 
were, indeed, in 1806 some shrewd men, some of them 
Frenchmen, who deprecated the policy of Napoleon 
because, in their view, it was bound to lead to such 
results. One of these, the Baron de Marbot, at the time 

6 How it contributed to German Unity. 

aide-de-camp to Marshal Augereau, has detailed, in one 
of the most charming autobiographies^ ever given to 
the world, the opinions he formed at that period. In 
the presence of accomplished facts they are worthy of 
being transcribed. ' Although,' wrote the Baron, ' I was 
very young at this epoch I thought that Napoleon com- 
mitted a great fault in reducing the number of the small 
principalities of Germany. In fact in the ancient wars 
against France the 800 princes of the Germanic corps 
could not act together. There was some of them who 
furnished only a company, some only a platoon, many 
but half a soldier ; so that the reunion of these different 
contingents composed an army totally deprived of any 
principle of combination, and disbanded at the very first 
reverse. But when Napoleon had reduced to thirt^'- 
two the number of the principalities he introduced the 
spirit of union into the forces of Germany, The sove- 
reigns preserved and aggrandised formed a small but 
well-constituted army. That indeed was the end which 
the Emperor proposed to himself in the hope of thus 
utilising to his profit all the military resources of the 
country. This was the case so long as we were success- 
ful. But at the very first reverse the thirty-two sove- 
reigns, having a common understanding, combined against 
France, and their coalition with Russia overthrew the 
Emperor Napoleon.' 

The Confederation of the Rhine, wounded to the death 
by the campaign of 1812, and killed by the battle of 
Leipsig, was succeeded, in 181 5, by a new league called 
'The Germanic Federation.' In the autumn of 1814 
the work of forming a scheme for the reorganisation 
of Germany had been committed to Austria, Prussia, 

1 Mernoires du Gen. Baron dc Marbot, Vol. I. page 275. Paris, Plon 
Nourrit & Co., 1891. 

The Gcrinanic Federation. 7 

and three of the minor powers. The scheme itself, 
promulgated June 8, 181 5, fell short of the hopes that 
had been roused during the life and death struggles of 
1813-14. The blighting influence of Metternich had suc- 
cessfully restricted the wider- reaching aspirations of the 
patriots of northern Germany. That many difficulties 
existed in the way of satisfying the latter must be ad- 
mitted. The kings whom Napoleon had made, released 
from his yoke, were resolved to maintain, as far as 
was possible, the absolutism which had ^characterised 
their rule during the preceding eight years. Austria 
was bound hand and foot to the same principle. And 
though the general feeling of Prussia, as a nation, was 
strongly in favour of progress, the King and his ministers 
were in their hearts not one whit more inclined to it 
than was Metternich himself. The outcome, then, of 
the deliberations of the five powers was unsatisfactory. 
Germany became federated only in name. The act of June 
1 81 5 created a Federal Diet at which seventeen members, 
the representatives of States, or groups of States or free 
cities, were to meet. These representatives were nominated 
by the rulers of the respective States or groups. The 
place of meeting was the city of Frankfort on the Main. 
From its first meeting, in November 18 16, to its last, 
in August 1866, the Diet was powerless to assure the 
real union of Germany. Throughout that period the 
influence of Austria was predominant ; and during the 
arbitrary rule of Metternich, 181 5 to 1848, and again 
during the reaction which followed the outbreaks of 1848, 
Austria used that influence to stifle every aspiration for 
freedom. Her principle was, 'to aggrandise Austria, to 
humiliate Prussia.' During its life of fifty-one years, 
inclusive of the suspension of its powers from July 1848 
to May 1851, the Diet, with opportunities favourable for 

8 The Revolutio7i ^y 1848. 

the development of sound patriotic principles, displayed 
only a genius for intrigue and a capacity for repression. 

To the Diet, thus playing a part at once subordinate 
and humiliating, the mouthpiece in matters pertaining 
to Germany of Metternich, the revolution of February 
1848 in Paris was a very rude awakener. To the people 
of every State in Germany the same event acted as a call 
to prompt and resolute action. It happened that at 
the moment (February 27) a meeting of patriotic men 
was being held at Mannheim to devise how to procure 
for the Fatherland a few moderate reforms. These were, 
the freedom of the press, trial by jury, liberty to carry 
arms, national representation. The terror inspired in 
ruling circles by the movements in Paris caused these 
proposals to be everywhere accepted. Baden led the 
way. The other States followed. In a few days not 
only had the modest requests I have mentioned been 
all but universally granted, but the governments, those 
of Austria and Prussia excepted, had promised to revoke 
the exceptional laws ; to impose on the army an oath 
of fidelity to the constitution ; to declare the political 
equality of all creeds ; the responsibility of the ministers 
of the crown ; the independence of the judges ; the aboli- 
tion of the remnants of feudalism. But little opposition 
was offered by the rulers. In Bavaria, indeed, there 
were tumults ; but the abdication of King Louis (March 
20) promptly put an end to these. Meanwhile, in Frank- 
fort, the population of which, like the populations of all 
the great cities in Germany, was wild with enthusiasm 
and excitement, the Diet had passed a resolution (March 
3) empowering every federal State to abolish the cen- 
sorship, and, under certain guarantees, to sanction the 
freedom of the press. On the loth, noting the continued 
swelling of the storm, it despatched to the rulers of 

Its First Effect in Germany. 9 

Germany an invitation to send to Frankfort commis- 
saries to discuss the reorganisation of the country. This 
invitation was its own death-warrant. In the tumult 
of the national aspirations it passed from the minds 
of men, and apparently expired. For nearly three years, 
from July 1848 to May 185 1, it ceased to meet. But 
for Austria, fresh from her triumph over the internal 
foes of her unpopular sway, the Diet would never have 
been heard of again. But we shall presently see how, 
in May 185 1, the powerful representative of the am- 
bitious policy of that power needing the semblance of 
a national sanction to the schemes he was planning^ 
summoned it from its tomb, and used its phantom form 
to impress the will of Austria on the Fatherland. How 
it existed for fifteen years, and then, under the treatment 
of Count Bismarck, went the way of other shams, will 
be told in due course. 

In considering the course of events which in Germany 
followed the explosion of 1848 it must be borne in mind 
that during the first eighteen months Austria was too 
much occupied with her own affairs to take a decisive 
part in the settlement of German questions, and that it 
was not to her but to Prussia that the patriots of the 
Fatherland looked for the action which should make 
Germany a nation. It will then be only necessary to 
state that no country in Europe was apparently so com- 
pletely shattered by the storm of the revolution as was 
the composite empire ruled over by the Habsburgs. For 
some time it seemed absolutely impossible that she could 
escape shipwreck. What with risings in Lombardy, at 
Venice, in Bohemia, in Hungary, in her own capital, 
Austria had the appearance of a gallant ship cast upon a 
lee shore combating with the breakers. The time came 
indeed when she righted herself, and made for a few 

lo Frederic William IV\ of Prussia. 

years a show as proud and as defiant as that which 
she had presented before February 1848. But for the 
moment she seemed a wreck, and all eyes and all hearts 
turned with hope and expectation to Prussia and her 

It seems advisable, under these circumstances, before 
we enter upon a sketch of the troubles at Berlin and 
at Frankfort, with their gradual subsidence in favour 
of a policy which, if responded to, might have antici- 
pated by twenty years the great event at Versailles of 
January 1871, to examine very briefly the character of 
the sovereign who then ruled in Prussia. 

Frederic William IV., King of Prussia, was in his 
fifty-fourth year when Paris dismissed the King of the 
French and his family. Though he had served as a 
youth in the stirring campaigns of 1811-14-15,^ he had 
none of the instincts of the soldier. The term ' dreamer ' 
describes accurately what he was. He had unbounded 
confidence in, almost a worship for the Czar Nicholas, 
a dread of offending Austria, a reverence for royalty 
and for ruling princes, such as placed them on a pedestal 
not to be approached by the common people. A senti- 
mentalist, irresolute, enthusiastic, and indolent, he wished 
the happiness of his subjects provided they would leave 
himself and his nobles in the enjoyment of the power 
and privileges he and they had inherited. He was ever 
ready with soft cajoling words, but he would not give 
them, if he could avoid it, any of the political food for 
which they clamoured. He was ready to promise without 
intending to perform. If he had ruled in France in the 
place of Louis XVI. he would have displayed no more 

' Baron Marbot records how his father, in 1812, earnestly begged 
Napoleon to allow the young prince to accompany him to Russia, on his 
staff, and how Napoleon, to his surprise, refused. 

Berlin /;^ 1 848. 11 

firmness than did that ill-fated monarch. But there was 
this difference in the positions of the two men. In 
France, in 1789-90, the army sided with the people. In 
Prussia, in 1848, the soldiers were loyal to the sovereign. 

Popular aspirations and popular enthusiasm had, early 
in March 1848, found a very strong expression in Berlin. 
With the cry for constitutional freedom in its broadest 
sense was joined the demand for the reorganisation of 
Germany on the principle of unity. The King was not 
disposed to grant any but the very slightest concession. 
On the 5th of March he attempted to disarm the leaders 
of the movement by telling them that their proposals 
would be considered by the Prussian Diet, the periodical 
meeting of which had been assured. Three days later 
the public were informed that the revision of the press 
laws was under consideration ; but these paltry and half- 
hearted concessions rather irritated than satisfied the 
people. For the six days that followed Berlin was 
paraded by an angry mob, which seemed inclined even 
to court a contest with the soldiery. On the 14th the 
King, who had been apparently delaying action until he 
should ascertain the results of the movements in other 
large centres, especially in Vienna, driven by the attitude 
of the people to do something, made another feeble 
attempt to calm men's minds. He issued a proclama- 
tion summoning the parliament to meet on the 27th of 
April, and promising that the question of unity should be 
considered at Dresden by a congress of princes. This 
ill-judged announcement drove the Berliners to fever 
heat, and for three days the city was a prey to continual 
tumult. The mind of the King was not relieved when, 
on the evening of the 15th, he received news of the 
untoward result of the outbreak at Vienna. Still he 
resisted ; nor did a deputation from Cologne, warning 


12 Berlin in 1848. 

him in threatening tones of the attitude of the people 
of the Rhine provinces, nor another from BerHn itself, 
urging him to comply with the popular wishes, move 
him to action. After a sleepless night on the 17th- 
18th he gave waj'. At midday of the 18th he issued an 
edict granting freedom of the press, summoning the 
united Prussian parliament for the 2d of April, and 
promising to aid with all his influence the meeting of a 
parliament for all Germany, to work out in the most 
practical manner the regeneration of the Fatherland. 
This manifesto seemed for the moment to satisfy the 
people. They crowded in groups round the palace, 
desirous to express their complete satisfaction. Then 
ensued one of those catastrophes which in times of 
revolution are brought about no one knows how. The 
scene was one full of excitement; there were groups 
round the palace, the King vainly striving to address 
and to make himself heard by the mass'es in the front 
rank. The position bore some analogy to that of the 
20th of June 1791 in Paris. Behind the front ranks the 
people continued to press on until the pressure became 
intolerable ; then to relieve it there was issued an order 
to disperse. The untrained elements which compose a 
crowd never disperse easily ; there can seldom be that 
unity of thought and action which is the only insurance 
against disorder. On this occasion the crowd did not 
readily disentangle itself. The soldiers who had heard 
the order noticed that it was not obeyed, and two of them 
discharged their muskets. In the panic which ensued the 
cavalry and infantry charged the people and dispersed 
them. But the anger of the people had been roused, 
blood had been shed, bands of men from all parts of 
the city collected to continue the combat, and during 
the night to erect barricades. There was every prospect 

Reconciliation between King and People. 1 3 

of a terrible battle on the 19th, when on the early morn- 
ing of that day the King, who had been greatly distressed 
at the occurrences, yielded to the advice pressed upon him 
and issued an order to withdraw the troops into the 
palace. The order was understood by those by whom 
it was received to mean withdrawal from the city, and 
this was done, the palace being left unprotected. The \ 
people now stood in the position of victors ; they used I 
their victory far more generously than did the Paris mob \ 
on the occasion I have referred to. Desirous only that the - 
King should witness the effect of the precipitate action of 
his soldiers, they had the bodies of the slain brought into 
the courtyard of the palace and their w^ounds laid bare. 
The King descended from the balcony and stood with 
uncovered head in the presence of the victims. His 
manner, sympathetic yet dignified, produced a deep effect. 
The same day he issued a political amnesty, to be ex- 
tended to all -classes, granted permission to carry arms, 
dismissed his reactionary ministry, and formed one from 
the ranks of the liberals. The people, on their s'de, attri- 
buted none of the mischance to their King. It was his / 
brother, afterwards the Emperor William I., to whom they, 
assigned the Tole of adviser against their interests, and that 
prince, conscious of his unpopularity, seized the oppor- 
tunity to depart for London. 

On the 2ist took place the formal reconciliation be- 
tween the King and the Berliners. The former, wearing 
the tricolour emblematic of German unity, rode, the head 
of a procession, through the streets, saluted by the crowd 
as Emperor of Germany, and talking platitudes regarding 
the duties imposed on all by a common danger. To him, 
an utter contemner of the authority of the people, the 
shouts which greeted him as Emperor were most distaste- 
ful. He endeavoured by signs to signify his disapproval, 

1 4 King Williain ' turns ' His Difficulties. 

and declared repeatedly that he would not despoil the 
other princes of the Fatherland. However, on his return 
he published a manifesto in which, whilst declaring him- 
self ready to assume the leadership in the hour of peril, 
and announcing that thenceforth Prussia was merged in 
Germany, he told the people that the country could only 
be saved by the most intimate union of German princes 
and peoples under a single headship. But at this time 
neither his words nor his acts gave a true indication of 
his inner convictions. Talking confidentially to a deputy 
at a later period of his conduct on this very day, March 
21, he described his famous ride through the city and its 
accompaniments as 'a comedy he had been made to 

Though internal peace was restored, and the victory of 
the party of progress seemed assured, the King's position 
was still surrounded by difficulties. The principality of 
Neuchatel in Switzerland, which had come into the hands 
of the King of Prussia as heir to the House of Orange, 
seized the opportunity of the general convulsion to sever 
itself from its liege lord. The Prussian Poles, to whose 
demands for a national reorganisation the King had 
listened, were pressing their claims. At this moment 
of perplexity a request from the people of Schleswig- 
Holstein for assistance against the Danes came to him 
as a positive relief 

The subject may be treated very briefly. On the 2ist 
of March a deputation of Schleswig-Holsteiners had 
proceeded to Copenhagen to make demands affecting 
their national life, to which, as Germans, they were 
entitled. These were, the admission of Schleswig into 
the German Bund, a common constitution for Schleswig- 
Holstein, the freedom of the press, and the dismissal 
of their obnoxious Statthalter. The King of Denmark 

Important Movements in Germany. 1 5 

refused these demands, whereupon the duchies con- 
summated (March 24) a bloodless revolution, dismissed 
their Statthalter, nominated in his stead a governing 
commission of five persons, summoned a common parlia- 
ment, and appealed to Berlin for support in the struggle 
which they knew to be inevitable. 

Frederic William IV. responded gladly to the appeal, 
and ordered Prussian troops to enter the duchies. These 
arrived just in time to prevent the collapse of the revolu- 
tionary movement. They proceeded to occupy the 
duchies, the Danes retaliating by employing their ships 
of war against the mercantile marine of Germany. Thus 
matters continued till the 26th of August, when Prussia 
and Denmark, — the latter refusing to admit to the de- 
liberations the representatives of the National Assembly 
of Frankfort — signed an armistice for seven months. 

It is time that I should advert to the proceedings 
at Frankfort, the outcome of the combined thought and 
action of the intellect of Germany. To those thinkers 
it had long been clear that the victorious issue of the 
struggle with Napoleon had not produced the results which 
had been hoped for. Napoleon had enslaved a great 
part of Germany because the Germans were disunited. 
After their release they remained almost as disunited 
as before. The yoke of Napoleon had been exchanged 
for the yoke of Metternich. Never had the freedom of 
thought and the freedom of the pen been more repressed 
than in the period from 1S15 to 1848. But now a chance 
had occurred : the chance of recovering all and more 
than all Germany had been hoping and secretly strug- 
gling for during the past thirty-three years. Instantly 
there was a movement. Communications passed from 
hand to hand, from centre to centre. Finally it was 
resolved that some 500 men, who had for the most part 

1 6 The Fi^mkfoj't Assembly. 

taken a share in the discussions of the day, should meet 
at Frankfort, the central point between north and south, 
the seat of the Diet, and make there preparations for the 
assembling of a national parliament representative of 
the entire Fatherland. The 500 met, sat five days, 
framed resolutions for the election of members of the 
new parliament, and then began to quarrel. In a time 
of revolution there is always a party of extremists, and 
they were not wanting in the ante-parliament, as the 
assembly of the 500 was called. But they formed the 
minority, and after having been worsted in argument, 
and having risen in insurrection in Baden, they were 
defeated, and deported to America. 

Meanwhile the elections had taken place, and on the 
1 8th of May the national constitutional assembly was 
opened. The main object of its members was to frame 
a constitution which should ensure the unity of Germany. 
Recalling the circumstances of the times, the state of 
chaos existing everywhere, the energies, often badly 
directed, which had been aroused, the terror of the 
princes, and the madness of the people, we can see that 
their task was almost impossible of accomplishment. 
Some hundreds of excellent gentlemen, all enthusiasts, 
many of them deep thinkers, all eager for the unity of 
the Fatherland, had met in solemn conclave to devise 
a scheme which, without the support of an army, 
they would enforce on States till then disunited and 
independent. Their best chance of success lay in the 
rapidity with which the scheme should be formulated 
and adopted. Failing that, they could hope for success 
only by enlisting in favour of their constitution one of 
the two great German powers, Austria or Prussia. But 
instead of acting with the celerity absolutely necessary to 
success, the philosophers and fanatics of the National 

Its Dilatory Proceedings. 1 7 

Assembly threw away valuable time in searching for first 
principles, in debating theoretical objections, and in 
debating the Schleswig-Holstein question. The result 
was that by the time their constitution was ready 
Austria had reasserted her influence, and the enthu- 
siasm of the peoples had in great part evaporated. 

It is not necessary here to examine minutely the 
several phases through which the National Assembly 
of Frankfort passed in 1848-9. Meeting on May 18th, it 
was not until the 28th of June that it had defined its 
powers for dealing with foreign affairs. On the day 
following it nominated the Archduke John of Austria to 
be regent of the empire, the holder, until a permanent 
chief should be appointed, of the executive power. An 
order assuring to itself indirectly supreme power, issued 
by the Assembly on this occasion, and directed to be read 
to the troops garrisoned all over Germany, gave rise on 
the part of the rulers of different parts of the country to 
expressions of opinion which should have warned the 
makers of the constitution to hurry on. Frederic 
William of Prussia was especially indignant, and although 
a meeting with the Archduke John at Cologne stilled his 
animosity, he could not refrain from telling a deputation 
of the Assembly which waited upon him that it was as 
well they should not forget that ' in Germany there were 
princes, and he was one of them.' 

Still the Assembly did not expedite the framing of the 
constitution. Early in June the consideration of the 
Schleswig-Holstein question had diverted it from the one 
path it should have followed, and served only to demon- 
strate its impotence. To the severance of its various 
parties, to the insurrectionary risings in Baden and their 
repression (September 24), it is not necessary to refer 
except to note the time diverted thereby from the main 


1 8 // elects Frederic Williain Emperor. 

and pressing object. Nor is it desirable to do more than 
indicate the embroihuent with Austria caused by the 
proposition of that power that the entrance of the Aus- 
trian empire into any scheme of union would mean the 
entrance of the whole empire, with its nearly 40,000,000 
of inhabitants, the majority non-German. It must suf- 
fice to state that it was not until March 27, 1849, that 
the Assembly resolved by 267 votes against 263 to make 
the dignity of the future German Emperor hereditary ; 
not till the 28th, that the constitution was read a second 
time, and that Frederic William IV. of Prussia was 
elected Emperor, 290 members voting for him, 248 ab- 

Before we consider the reply made by Frederic 
William to the offer it is advisable to take a glance alike 
at the turn affairs had been taking in Prussia and to the 
position of Austria. We left Frederic William moment- 
arily relieved from his internal troubles by the outbreak 
of war with Denmark, a valve, he thought, for the super- 
abundant energies of the liberals. Shortly afterwards, 
May 22d, the constituent assembly met. It was com- 
posed of very mediocre men, the best heads in northern 
Germany having preferred seats in the Frankfort 
Assembly. It effected very little. For a time it could 
with difficulty repress the street riots which continued at 
intervals to rage. It rejected the constitution scheme put 
before it by the government as not sufficiently democratic. 
Thereupon the cabinet resigned (June 15), and ten days 
later a new ministry was constituted which styled itself a 
' ministry of action.' At first it seemed to justify its title, 
but soon new complications arose which defied its capacity 
to unravel. At length the unlicensed demagogy of the 
streets paved the way by its excesses to a reaction. 
Gradually the party of order recovered courage, the army 

Position of Frederic William. 19 

was staunch, and when, after many trials, the King had 
found the assembly impracticable, he suddenly appointed 
Count Brandenburg minister, prorogued the assembly 
(November 8), and ordered that it should meet at Bran- 
denburg. Meanwhile troops were concentrated round 
the capital, and a state of siege was proclaimed On 
December 5th, finding the assembly still bent on obstruc- 
tion, the King dissolved it, published a new constitution, 
and summoned a new parliament, composed of two 
chambers, to meet on February 26th. 

Such was the situation of Prussia during the later 
months of 1848 and the earlier days of 1849. The King 
meanwhile was watching with mingled feelings the action 
tending to the unity of Germany under the presidency 
of Prussia at Frankfort. Whether he should accept or 
refuse the offer which he felt sure would be made him 
was a question he debated long and seriously with him- 
self It can scarcely be doubted that in the earlier period 
of the consideration he was inclined to acceptance. This 
is evident from the fact that even at the last moment, 
when the imperial crown was actually offered, those about 
him believed that he would take it. But not only were 
his prejudices very strong, not only did he abhor the 
idea of accepting from inferiors that which he would have 
hailed if offered by men of his own caste, but the long 
delays of the Frankfort assembly, the indications of its 
waning authority, and, above all, the rapid revival of 
Austria, and the dictatorial tone she was assuming, set 
before his eyes every day more clearly the great diffi- 
culties to himself an acceptance would involve. But he 
wavered long. The smaller States of Germany had given 
evidence that the Frankfort plan would be acceptable to 
them. The King himself (Frederic William), in a circular 
note he addressed to the powers, seemed to favour it. 

20 The Recovery of Atistria. 

But before the offer actually was made the action of 
Austria, under the guidance of Felix Schwarzenberg, 
came not only to increase the difficulties of the situa- 
tion but to efface as far as was possible all the records 
of the revolution. 

From that revolution Austria had suffered more than 
all the other German powers together. She had lost for 
the moment Italy and Hungary. Her capital, Vienna, 
was more than once in the hands of the revolutionary 
party. But she had recovered with a celerity which 
astonished Europe. The victory of Novara (March 23, 
1849), followed by the peace of Milan (August 6), re- 
stored to her her Italian possessions. The energy of 
Prince Windischgratz had put down revolution in Prague 
and Vienna. From September 1848 to August 1849 she 
was engaged in a severe struggle with Hungary, to 
emerge from it, with the aid of Russia, given without 
stint, absolutely victorious. On the 2d of December 
1848 the feeble Emperor Ferdinand had abdicated in 
favour of a nephew in the prime of early youth — he was 
but just nineteen — at Olmiitz in Moravia. With the 
new Emperor, Francis Joseph, or rather preceding him 
by a few days (November 22), came the famous minister 
who for a short time was to impose his will upon Ger- 
many, Prince Felix Schwarzenberg. 

The recovery of Italy, and the suppression of the 
national rising in Hungary, by invoking the aid of 
Russia, were the work of Felix Schwarzenberg. He 
assumed at once the high tone which would have be- 
fitted the ruler of a recuperated empire. His one aim 
for the moment was to abolish all disunion within 
his own empire, to restore to Austria in Germany the 
preponderance she had exercised between 181 5 and 1848, 
if possible to augment it. He set to work in a man- 

Atistria and the Frankfort Assembly. 2 1 

ner which quickly assured temporary union within, and 
certain preponderance without, the borders of his coun- 
try. Had he Hved and retained his position there is no 
saying how far he might have rendered permanent the 
advantages he had gained, but he died (April 5, 1852) 
too early for his purpose. It is necessary to examine 
here how far his action affected the cause of German 
unity as that cause was progressing in 1849. 

When, in the early days of 1849, the majority of the 
National Assembly at Frankfort had made it abundantly 
clear that they contemplated the union of Germany as 
a federated State under the leadership of Prussia, to be 
followed by a union with Austria, Schwarzenberg pro- 
tested in the most positive manner against the subordina- 
tion of the Kaiser to a supreme power centred in any 
other German prince (February 1849). On the 5th of 
April following, for reasons presently to be mentioned, 
he recalled all the Austrian deputies from Frankfort. 
Meanwhile, in March, he had dissolved at Olmiitz the 
parliament which, during the prevalence of the revolu- 
tionary fever, had been summoned to meet at Kremsier, 
a town in Moravia, and the seat during the troubles in 
Vienna of the government; had set aside the constitu- 
tion it had drafted ; and had published an edict, known 
as the edict of Olmiitz, which professed to bestow upon 
die entire Austrian empire a uniform and centralised 
"constitution. This constitution, under the pretence of 
securing equal rights for all the subjects of the Kaiser, 
really established absolute government throughout his 
dominions, some of them still in a state of rebellion. 
It contained, indeed, clauses granting provincial insti- 
tutions to the German and Slav districts, but the powers 
of these were practically extremely limited. 

The action of Austria towards the National Assembly 

2 2 Schwarzenberfr and Prussia 


in protesting against the subordination of the Kaiser to 
a central power vested in any other German prince had 
been indirectly supported by the four lesser kingdoms — 
Saxony, Bavaria, Wurtemberg, and Hanover ; for these 
had with one voice protested against any federation in 
which Austria was not included. Now, the Austria of 
Schwarzenberg would be included only on her own terms. 
She could make or mar. She could either, that is to say, 
impose terms, which, if accepted, would assure her a pre- 
dominance in Germany, or she would restore the old Diet 
in which, for thirty-three years, her preponderance had 
been unquestioned. In the same note then in which 
he protested against the subordination of Austria 
Schwarzenberg proposed the entry into the Germanic 
federation of the entire Austrian empire, including all 
its foreign elements. This announcement, followed a 
month later by the edict of Olmlitz, which merged into 
one mass the different nationalities which recognised the 
Kaiser, excited the greatest commotion at Frankfort, and 
hastened the action of the supporters of German unity 
under a Prussian king. It led directly to that election 
of the King of Prussia to the headship of the Father- 
land (March 28) of which I have written in a preceding 

It must always be borne in mind, when considering 
the action of the King of Prussia with respect to the 
offer of the headship of federated Germany, that he was 
thoroughly cognisant of the policy of Austria, and knew 
well that acceptance on his part would almost certainly 
mean war. Now he was not prepared for war. The 
army of Prussia was not in a condition to enter upon 
a campaign with a first-class power. Neither could the 
King count upon the support of the Czar. Indeed 

Tare 18. 

Considerations affecting Prussia. 23 

a little later, he had to learn that the sympathies of 
that powerful sovereign were entirely with Austria. 
He had besides, and had always had, a reverence for 
Austria. And although, in the early part of 1849, 
Austria had not retrieved her affairs in Italy, and her 
armies were still engaged in Hungary, yet no one 
doubted her speedy success in both quarters. That 
success achieved, she w^ould have at her disposal troops 
seasoned by warfare, and probably rendered enthusiastic 
by victory. But what weighed most of all, probably, 
with Frederic William was the fact that if he were to 
accept the offer he would accept it from an assembly 
founded by a revolution, and he would have thus to 
assert his rights, as champion of the revolution, against 
the supporters of the divine right in which he implicitly 

Still the temptation to him was great ; and when, 
on the evening of the 2d of April, the members de- 
puted by the Frankfort assembly to offer the crown 
to the King arrived at Berlin, the minister, Count 
Brandenburg, received them with such cordiality that 
the impression was general that Frederic William had 
been won over. But the events of the following morning 
dispelled the impression. Whatever may have passed 
through his mind during the night, the dawn of day 
found Frederic William true to the traditions in which 
he had been nursed. He would not, he told the de- 
putation, accept the proffered crown unless he were 
summoned to take it by the princes of Germany, and 
unless, also, the constitution should be approved by 
the same princes. The answer amounted to an absolute 
refusal : as such it was intended : as such it was sorrow- 
fully accepted. 

The answer was indeed much more than a refusal. 

2 4 Despotic Action of Frederic William. 

It was the deathblow to the . Frankfort Assembly : to 
that assembly of German patriots who had made a 
genuine and strenuous effort to heal the many wounds 
of the Fatherland, to remove all causes of discord, to 
anticipate, in a word, the work of 1866-71. For the 
answer of the King of Prussia was not only a rejection 
of the crown, it was virtually a rejection of the constitu- 
tion, the result of so many debates and so many com- 
promises. That part of his reply referring to the 
constitution supplied a keynote for all Germany, for 
Austria in particular. It was that reference which 
brought from Prince Schvvarzenberg the order of the 
5th of April to the Austrian deputies of the National 
Assembly, to which I have alluded, to quit Frankfort. 
The ground he took was that the Assembly had been 
guilty of illegality in publishing the constitution. It 
became clear that Bavaria and Wurtemberg would act 
with Austria, and that neither Saxony nor Planover 
would side with the Assembly. Frederic William fol- 
lowed up his refusal by dismissing his recently sum- 
moned parliament for passing a resolution in favour 
of the Frankfort constitution, ^ This was a blow the 
significance of which could scarcely be overrated. When, 
in reply, the Frankfort Assembly addressed a note to 
all the disapproving Governments, demanding that they 
should abstain from dismissing or proroguing the re- 
presentative bodies within their dominions, in order 
thus to stifle the free utterance of opinions in favour 
of the constitution they had drawn up, the official 
press of Prussia denounced that Assembly as a revolu- 
tionary body. 

Thus denounced, the Assembly, the basis of moral 

' The parliament also protested against the conlinuance of the state of 
siege in Beilin. 

End of the Frankfort Assembly. 25 

power on which it had depended cut from beneath it. 
abandoned on all sides, had no choice but to succumb. 
Some of the most violent of the democratic spirits arranged 
a popular rising at Dresden (May 4). But five days later 
Prussian troops restored order in the Saxon capital. In 
Baden, despite the fact that the Grand Duke had accepted 
the constitution, and had issued summonses of election for 
the federal legislative body by which the Assembly was to 
be succeeded, insurrection broke out, the republic was 
.proclaimed, the troops joined the insurgents, and revolu- 
tionists from beyond the borders poured in to assist 
them. The situation was a test situation for the Frank- 
fort Assembly. Could it or could it not repress disorders 
the consequence of its own failure to ensure unity .-* It at 
least made the attempt. It called upon the regent of 
the empire it had appointed, the Archduke John, to put 
down the revolution in Baden, and to protect the expres- 
sion of free opinion regarding the constitution where that 
expression was threatened. The Archduke refused, and 
on the consequent resignation of his minister Von Gagern, 
he placed a set of nobodies in office. Prussia then, 
anxious to finish with the Assembly, declared that it 
regarded the resolution passed by it on the loth of May, 
calling upon the Archduke to employ all the forces of 
Germany in defence of the constitution as a summons to 
civil war, and ordered all the Prussian deputies to quit 
Frankfort. Saxony and Hanover followed her example, 
and a few days later. May 20th, sixty-five of the most re- 
spected of the deputies declared their conviction that 
under the actual circumstances the relinquishment of 
its task by the x^ssembly was the least of evils, and that 
their ^vork must be regarded as ended. Their example 
was gradually followed by all but the extreme radicals. 
These withdrew first to Stuttgart (June 6). But their 

26 Austria and Prussia Face to Face. 

vagaries at that quiet capital roused against them the 
popular opinion, and on the i8th they were driven out 
and dispersed. The Baden revolutionists, to whom I 
have previously referred, made a longer stand, and a 
campaign of six weeks was necessary before the Prince 
of Prussia was able, after some reverses, to crush them. 

Such was the end of the great attempt made in 
1848-9 to secure the federal union of Germany. It was 
a bold, a generous, a patriotic attempt. Resting solely 
on moral force, it could only succeed by enlisting on its 
behalf one of the two great powers which influenced 
respectively the country north of the Main and the ter- 
ritories south of that river. Had the King of Prussia 
been other than he was, had his nature partaken of the 
adventurous, and his will been strong and resolute, had, 
moreover, the Assembly been more intent on quickly 
forming its constitution than on fruitlessly debating 
the Schleswig-Holstein question; in a word, had it 
made to the King in the autumn of 1848 the offer it 
submitted to him in April 1849, it is just possible that 
the scheme might have been accepted. But the delay 
gave time to Austria, and the opposition of Austria 
was fatal. The King of Prussia could not have accepted 
the offer of April 1849 without having to meet Austria 
in the field. That was a contingency which — it will be 
seen later on — with an unprepared army, he dared 
not face. 

The failure of the P^rankfort Assenibly left Austria 
and Prussia practically face to face. The views of 
Frederic William and Prince Felix Schwarzenberg were 
essentially opposed. The former still desired, in the 
perfunctory manner habitual to him, to bring about 
some kind of German union, with Prussia at the head. 
The latter was determined to restore the state of affairs 

Secret Hopes of Frederic JVilHaiu. 27 

which had existed prior to March 1848. He would 
resuscitate the Bund with its Diet ensuring the preponder- 
ance of Austria. It is advisable to devote a very short 
space to the discussion of the methods they severally 
pursued, and note the results which followed therefrom. 
The story is another illustration of the maxim that, 
in politics as in war, the boldest player almost in- 
variably chains victory to his car. 

The secret hopes of Frederic William IV. of Prussia 
to obtain, not from the Frankfort Assembly, now through 
his action dying or dead, but from the princes of northern 
and central Germany, a position which should more than 
counterbalance the influence of Austria, had been in- 
ducing him, in the earlier months of 1849, to set on foot 
secret negotiations to bring about that end. When, on 
the 3d of April, he had refused the proffered crown, he 
had announced his determination to place himself at the 
head of a federation of States voluntarily uniting them- 
selves to Prussia, under terms to be arranged ; and, very 
soon afterwards, he had addressed to the several govern- 
ments of Germany a circular, inviting such of them as 
might be disposed to attend a conference to be held at 
Berlin on the 17th of May. In the interval his govern- 
ment, by its reply to the resolution of the Frankfort 
Assembly of the loth of May, had dealt to that Assembly 
the blow from which it never rallied. To transfer to him- 
self, then, any moral power which up to that date might 
have been wielded by the Assembly as the promoter of 
German unity, and to calm the minds of the liberals 
at Breslau, Elberfeld, Dusseldorf, and other centres, the 
King, on the 1 5th, issued a proclamation to the Prussian 
people, declaring that despite the failure at Frankfort 
a German union was still to be formed. From the con- 
ference that he summoned, the smaller States, which had 

2 8 Manceuvres of Prussia. 

given in their adhesion to the Frankfort constitution, 
at first held aloof, though subsequently twenty-eight of 
them sent in their adherence. To guage its real object, 
Austria sent a representative, but he retired at the close 
of the first sitting. The Bavarian agent followed his 
example. There remained, then, besides Prussia, the 
representatives of Hanover and Saxony. These three, 
proceeding to work, formed the confederation of the 
26th of May, known as the ' League of the Three 
Kingdoms,' and which had for its object the forma- 
tion of a federal union for all the States of Germany 
willingly adhering thereto. An undertaking was given 
that a federal parliament should be summoned for this 
purpose. Meanwhile Frederic William despatched troops 
to put down the disturbances which, as previously noted, 
had broken out in Saxony and Baden, a military opera- 
tion which, in the case of the latter, occupied six weeks. 
The League of the Three Kingdoms gradually attracted to 
itself the smaller powers of Germany, but Austria, Bavaria, 
and Wlirtemberg would have nothing further to say to 
it. With Austria all that could be accomplished was to 
renew the agreement of the 30th of September previously, 
which provided that, until the permanent settlement of 
the affairs of Germany should be accomplished, a joint 
•commission should carry on the administration of the 
Bund. But, as the internal affairs of the Austrian em- 
pire righted themselves, the opposition of Prince Schwar- 
zenberg to the action taken by the King of Prussia 
became more strongly defined. The victory of Novara 
(March 23) had restored to Austria Northern Italy ; the 
surrender of Vilagos (August 13) gave her back Hungary. 
Thenceforward Schwarzenberg could reckon upon an 
army proved in war to support his policy. Accordingly 
he began to work with a purpose which there was no 

Insincerity of F7'ederic William. 29 

mistaking. He first succeeded in detaching Saxony and 
Hanover from the Prussian league. Prussia, never- 
theless, though followed only by the twenty-eight 
minor States of Germany, pursued her plan, and 
held at Erfurt (March 20, 1850) a federal parliament 
for the consideration of a new system of federal 
union. A draft of a constitution, drawn up in Berlin, 
was submitted to it. But hardly had it been read when 
the insincerity of the King of Prussia became mani- 
fest. In the interval between June 1849 and March 1850 
a great reaction had taken place in Prussia. The King 
had reconquered the power he had lost in March 1848, 
and he was entirely disposed to retract all the concessions 
he had made at the period when, to use his own words, 
he had been ' acting a comedy.' The very federal con- 
stitution he had had drawn up at Berlin whilst his fears 
held the ascendency had now become too liberal ; and, 
although the parliament he had summoned to Erfurt 
would have voted it en bloc, his supporters demanded 
that it should be revised. This proceeding excited the 
scorn and contempt of all the right-minded liberals of 
Germany. It was plain to them that Frederic William 
IV. of Prussia was a shuffler, whose word was not to be 
trusted, and from whom no scheme for the real union of 
Germany was to be expected. 

Meanwhile Austria, her hands now completely free, 
had been slowly working for the attainment of her aim, 
the restoration of the Bund of 181 5 to the position it 
had lost in 1848. The vacillations and want of faith of 
Frederic William greatly helped her. Already there sat 
in Frankfort thirteen representatives of States composing 
the Bund as an extraordinary Diet with full powers. 
This Diet was ready to act as Prince Schwarzenberg 
might desire. It possessed the fullest authority, for. 

30 The Case of Hesse-Cassel. 

legally, it was the Bund, the representative of all 
Germany. A circumstance very soon arose which gave 
Schwarzenburg the opportunity of exercising its powers 
with decisive effect against Prussia. 

Frederic William I., Elector of Hesse-Cassel, born in 
1802, had become, September 30, 1831, by the virtual 
abdication of his father, ruler of the electorate when 
still in his twenty-ninth jear. A despot at heart, the 
young prince had begun by administering the electorate 
under constitutional forms which he was always endeav- 
ouring to evade. The death of his father, November 20, 

1847, made him ruler in name as well as in fact. Not 
foreseeing the coming storm, he then made an attempt to 
suppress the constitution, which he detested, but when the 
crisis came his army failed him, and he was baffled. Close 
upon that rebuff broke out the revolution of February 

1848, and the popular enthusiasm it caused made itself 
felt in every town and district of the electorate. The 
Elector bowed before the storm, and, deserted on the 
night of the 5th of March by his unpopular minister, 
Scheffer, promised the reforms immediately asked for 
(March 7). Pressed still further, he gave way on all 
points, formed a new ministry composed of liberals, and 
summoned the estates for the 13th of March. They met 
on that date, and passed laws which removed grievances 
long passively endured. A new era of happiness seemed 
to dawn for the people of Hesse-Cassel. They sent 
deputies to the Frankfort Assembly, and on its dissolu- 
tion the electorate adhered to the league formed by 
Prussia and known as the League of the Three Kings. 
A fresh parliament, elected in July 1849, endorsed this 

But by this time it had, become clear to the rulers, 
who had divested themselves of absolutism, that the 

Divergent Policies of Austria and Prussia. 31 

enthusiasm of March 1848 had waned considerably, and 
that the zeal for reform was abatini^. We have already 
noticed how this consideration affected the action of 
Frederic William IV. of Prussia. It acted similarly on 
the mind of the Elector of Hesse-Cassel. This prince, 
who had been waiting his opportunity, resolved now to 
strike a blow for the recovery of his lost authority. To 
attain this end he entered into secret negotiations with 
Austria; dismissed, February 22, 1850, his liberal, ministry, 
when he found the change he suggested unacceptable to 
his parliament ; dissolved the latter without warning (June 
12); and despatched his unpopular minister, Hassenpflug, 
to represent Hesse-Cassel at the Diet then sitting at 
Frankfort. He then proceeded to undo all that had 
been accomplished in the way of liberal reform in the 
period between March 1848 and the actual date, and 
he persisted in this course despite the refusal of his 
troops to coerce the people, and the opposition of the 
constituted authorities within the electorate. 

Meanwhile the action of Hassenpflug at the Diet 
brought to boiling point the differences between Austria 
and Prussia. The Hesse minister, backed by Austria 
and her allies, had persuaded the Diet to pass a resolu- 
tion (September 17) pledging itself to use all its efforts 
to maintain the threatened authority of the Elector 
within his dominions. But Prussia had morally pledged 
herself to the support of the constitutional rights of the 
people of the electorate, and she could not, without 
abandoning her claim to the leadership of German union, 
forsake her confederates in their extremity. She began 
by issuing a diplomatic circular to the effect that an 
irregular body which called itself the Diet had no right 
whatever to interfere in the affairs of the electorate. 
The King followed up this declaration by directing 

32 Sckwarzenberg' s Opportunity. 

Prussian troops to enter Hesse. They did enter the 
country, and occupied the important posts of Cassel 
and Fulda. 

This was the opportunity for which Prince Schwarzen- 
berg had been longing, to reobtain for Austria her 
preponderance in Germany. Acting with Bavaria and 
Wiirtemberg, he upheld the authority of the Diet against 
the strictures of Prussia, and gave orders to an Austro- 
Bavarian army corps to march into Hesse from the east. 
It appeared impossible, if both the contending parties 
should adhere to their published declarations, that a 
conflict between the north and south could be avoided. 

But just at this critical moment the Czar Nicholas, 
whose delight it was to pose as the arbiter of continental 
Europe, and who had but recently crushed Hungary at 
the urgent prayer of Austria, came to Warsaw. There 
he was met (October 29) by the Emperor of Austria and 
the brother of the King of Prussia. There also were 
Schwarzenberg for Austria and Count Brandenburg repre- 
senting Prussia. The differences between the two great 
German powers were considered in detail by the Czar, 
and on all points he decided in favour of Austria. Indeed 
the reception he gave to the Prussian minister, Count 
Brandenburg, was so galling that that true-hearted man 
returned to Berlin only to submit his report and to die. 

To a mind constituted as was that of the King of 
Prussia the opinions expressed by a potentate whom he 
had been taught to revere, and whom the history of the 
past forty years had identified so closely with his family 
and his country, came as an order from heaven. He 
had still able and patriotic men by his side. Promi- 
nent among these was his minister, General Radowitz, 
who urged him at this crisis to be true to Prussia and 
to his principles. But, on the other side, was Manteuffe 

Trmmpk of Austria. 33 

whispering in his ear that the Prussian army was in 
such a condition that it could not possibly resist the 
hardy and well-tried soldiers of Austria, and that the 
consequences of defeat might be far - reaching. This 
information was not reassuring, but it was the dictum 
of the Czar that settled the question. At a council held 
at Berlin on the 2d of November the King decided to 
submit. Radowitz resigned. Manteuffel succeeded him. 
Prussia abandoned the lead she had assumed, and 
accepted, to hold it for sixteen years, the second position 
in Germany. 

Prince Schwarzenberg was thus triumphant. The 
army corps of which I have spoken entered Hesse 
(November i), occupied Hanau, and marching west- 
wards, had a slight brush with the Prussian troops at 
Bronzell near Fulda. On the 9th he categorically 
demanded the dissolution of the Prussian union, the 
recognition of the Diet, and the evacuation of Hesse. 
Manteuffel conceded the first point. Whilst he was 
hesitating regarding the other two Schwarzenberg sent 
the order to the Austro-Bavarian army corps to advance, 
and demanded that Prussian troops should evacuate the 
electorate within four-and -twenty hours. Upon this 
Manteuffel begged for an interview, and, not waiting 
for an answer, started for Olmiitz. There he had to 
give way on all points. He agreed, in the name of 
Prussia, to withdraw all her troops, one battalion ex- 
cepted, from Hesse, and practically to recognise the 
Bund. He resigned, in fact, all that Prussia and her 
king had intrigued for persistently ever since they had 
recovered from the terror caused by the outbreak 
of 1848. 

The triumph of Prince Schwarzenberg was, it cannot 
be denied, the triumph of reaction. Not only was the 


34 Temporary Ejfacement of Prussia. 

Bund reconstituted on the principles on which it had 
been founded in 1815, but Austria herself, by decrees 
of August 185 1 and January 1852, still further restricted 
the liberties of her people. In Prussia the restrictions 
imposed by the constitution of January 31, 1850, existed 
indeed, but did not prevent a near approach to absolutism. 
In most of the other German States, more especially in 
Hesse, the reaction exhibited an impatient and unsparing 
activity. In Schlesvvig-Holstein the retrograde action of 
Germany was even more pronounced. Austria and 
Prussia virtually accepted terms dictated by Denmark, 
which secured to the latter power supreme authority 
in the two duchies. In a conference held in London the 
right of inheritance to the duchies was secured, after the 
death of the reigning king, to the line of Gllicksburg. 
To this the two larger German powers also agreed. 
Finally, the German fleet, the object of so much enthu- 
siasm, was offered up to the reactionary spirit. After 
long deliberations it was resolved to break it up. Prussia 
bought some of the larger vessels, the others were sold 
by auction to the highest bidder. 

But if the dreams of unity which inspired all hearts 
on the morrow of the revolution of 1848 were thus 
cruelly dissipated ; if the one power to which every 
thoughtful German had turned with hope and expectation 
in 1848 had renounced the aspirations which had fitfully 
inspired it in the early days of the revolution ; if the 
years 185 1 and 1852 witnessed the re-welding of that 
central authority which secured for Austria the first, 
and relegated Prussia to the second place in the German 
hierarchy ; if the cause of union seemed dead, not to be 
resuscitated except by a general convulsion, there were 
yet some shrewd men who, remembering the story of the 
mouse and the lion, worked quietly and unostentatiously 

Causes Working for Her Futiwe. 35 

to prepare the ground for a new opportunity. These 
men were Prussians, working under the despotism of 
Frederic Wilh'am IV., and under the timid and reactionary 
ministry of Manteuffel. It is to the consideration of 
their operations that we must now turn, for, in the 
presence of accomph'shed facts, it has to be admitted 
that the ZOLLVEREIN, the NEEDLE-GUN, and, a little 
were the factors which enabled Prussia to become pre- 
dominant in Germany in 1866, absolutely supreme in 


TRUSSIA FROM 1 852 TO 1 857. 

Under the ministry of Manteufifel Prussia retrograded 
to a system more despotic than that which had obtained 
prior to the revolution of 1848. She had had her chance 
and had thrown it away. The period of alternate fears 
and hopes had culminated in the capitulation of Olmiitz, 
a capitulation made by the very man whom the King, 
Frederic William IV., delighted to honour, and to whom 
he now entrusted the administration of the country. All 
the measures of Manteufifel were tainted by the moral 
disgrace engendered by that capitulation. They were, 
in external affairs, petty, irritating, poor in conception, 
showing that their author had not realised the nature of 
the policy which had made Prussia great, and which alone 
could keep her great. Manteuffel's one aim appeared to be 
to keep Prussia out of sight, to yield with a good grace, 
to avoid all responsibility, to submit to moral efifaccment. 
Had the powerful Austrian statesman who had brought 
about the capitulation of Olmiitz lived but a few years 
longer it is probable that Prussia during the period of 
which I am writing would have reached even a lower 
point of degradation. Felix Schwarzenberg had made 
no secret of the aim of his German policy. He had 
resolved to undo the work of Frederic II, He would 
first humiliate Prussia, and then destroy her. How 
effectuallv he had humiliated her the records of the con- 

The Zollvereiii. 2>7 

vention of the 29th of November 1850 clearly prove. 
But in April 1852 a stroke of apoplexy removed Felix 
Schvvarzenberg from the scene. His sucessors, fortun- 
ately for Prussia, were men of inferior mental calibre. 
For some time, however, the shadow of his presence 
seemed to hover round the council chamber of the King 
of Prussia and his ministers, and to impel them to the 
policy of self-effacement which I have endeavoured to 

But whilst the King of Prussia and his minister were 
thus degrading Prussia externally, an internal process 
was going on, the development of the work of preceding 
statesmen, which was destined to bear abundant fruit. 
I find the early stages of this process so admirably and 
concisely described by Mr Fyffe in his history of modern 
Europe ^ that I venture to quote the passage. Writing 
of the internal administration of Prussia between 1828 
and 1836 Mr Fyffe says : ' Under a wise and enlightened 
financial policy the country was becoming visibly richer. 
Obstacles to commercial intercourse were removed ; com- 
munications opened ; and finally, by a series of treaties 
with the neighbouring German States, the foundations 
were laid for that customs union which, under the name 
of the Zollverein, ultimately embraced almost the whole 
of non-Austrian Germany. As one principality after 
another attached itself to the Prussian system, the 
products of the various regions of Germany, hitherto 
blocked by the frontier dues of each petty State, moved 
freely through the land, while the costs attending the 
taxation of foreign imports, now concentrated upon the 
external line of frontier, were enormously diminished. 
Patient, sagacious, and even liberal in its negotiations 
with its weaker neighbours, Prussia silently connected 

^ Fyffe's Moaern Europe, \"ol. II. page 4C6. 

38 Growth of the Zo liver ein. 

with itself, through the ties of financial union, States 
which had hitherto looked to Austria as their natural 
head. The semblance of political union was carefully 
avoided, but the germs of political union were neverthe- 
less present in the growing community of material 

The extension of the Zollverein was steadily pushed 
on after the period of which Mr Fyffe writes, and in 1837, 
1 84 1, 1843, 1844, and 1845 various petty States joined 
it. After the revolution of 1848, when matters had re- 
turned in the manner described into the old grooves, 
Austria made an attempt to creep into the system. The 
manner in which her action in this respect was baffled 
proves that there were men in Prussia fully cognisant 
of the immense advantages which would accrue to their 
country by the exclusion from the Zollverein of the purely 
Austrian element. It happened in this way. 

In November 1851 Prussia had announced to the 
members of the Zollverein that, at a conference which 
had been summoned to meet at Berlin in the spring of 
1852, she intended to bring forward proposals for strength- 
ening and enlarging its basis and its scope of action. 
Meanwhile the minister for commerce and public works 
at Vienna, Charles Louis von Brlick, a native of Elberfeld, 
and therefore by birth a Prussian, had convinced Prince 
Schwarzcnberg of the necessity of altering the prohibitive 
system then existing in the dominions of the Kaiser, 
and of proposing to the other States of Germany a closer 
commercial connection. Flushed with this idea, Schwar- 
zenberg summoned a Zoll-Congress to meet at Vienna 
in January 1852. In this congress the majority of the 
members of the Zollverein, Prussia, Hanover, and some 
smaller States excepted, took part. These unanimously 
agreed to advocate the acceptance of the Austrian pro- 

Attempts of Austria to enter it. 39 

posals, securing to Austria a footing in the Zollverein, 
at the meeting of the members of the latter to be held 
at Berlin on the 19th of April following. At a pre- 
liminary meeting at Darmstadt, on the 6th of April, 
Bavaria, Saxony, Wiirtemberg, both the provinces of 
Hesse, Baden, and Nassau, known in the history of the 
period as ' The Darmstadt Coalition,' bound themselves 
to make a special point of this admission. But at the 
Berlin conference Prussia, without openly opposing it, 
managed to get the scheme virtually shelved. Her re- 
presentatives met the proposal of the Darmstadt coalition 
by a motion that the consideration of that proposal 
should be deferred until the conference should have 
pronounced an opinion on the plans they had submitted 
for the reconstruction of the bases of the Zollverein 
itself After many discussions, all of which proved fruit- 
less, the Zoll conference was adjourned for a month (July 
20). In the interval the Darmstadt coalition met again 
at Stuttgart, and, when the conference reassembled at 
Berlin on the 21st of August, announced that they were 
willing to accept, on certain conditions, the scheme which 
Prussia had proposed. They insisted, however, that 
coincidently with the ratification of the Prussian scheme 
a customs union and commercial treaty should be signed 
with Austria. Prussia, supported by Hanover, Brunswick, 
Oldenberg, and Thuringia, agreed to sign such a treaty, 
but only after the Zollverein should have been recon- 
stituted. On this the conference was again adjourned, 
and the Darmstadt coalition held in September a meet- 
ing at Munich. Further negotiations made clear the 
secret purpose of Prussia not to allow Austria to enter 
the Zollverein. Possessing no longer the guiding hand 
and resolute will of Felix Schwarzenberg, Austria, after 
an interval, agreed to a compromise, by which she made 

40 Austria is baffled. 

a treaty with Prussia (February 19, 1853) securing for 
her products a more moderate scale of import, ex- 
port, and transit duties, the terms, in fact, granted to the 
' most favoured nation.' The duration of the treaty 
was to be twelve years. In i860 committees were to 
meet to discuss the possibility of a customs union, 
or, in case this should be pronounced impracticable, of 
a further mutual lowering of the scale of duties. Thus 
by masterly adherence to her main idea — the exclusion 
of Austria from the Zollverein — Prussia maintained dur- 
ing those years of waiting the enormous advantage of 
union of interests with the German principalities outside 
of Austria. Her policy in this respect was one great 
factor in the cementing of the union of hearts which 
followed the events of 1866. 

Another factor, which preceded and had a large in- 
fluence in producing those events, was the introduction 
into the Prussian army of the needle-gun. During the 
thirty-five years which had followed the peace of 1 8 1 5 the 
several nations of Europe had shown a great disinclina- 
tion to effect improvements in their armies. This dis- 
inclination had been manifested especially in England. 
The first Duke of Wellington, whose influence on this 
point was all-commanding, had set his face against the 
attempting any large change in the weapons which had 
won for him his great battles. He would agree to the 
replacement of the flint lock by the percussion cap, but 
nothing beyond that. The same line had been taken by 
the historian of the Peninsular war, the late Sir William 
Napier. By both of these the old musket known as 
' Brown Bess ' was extolled as the ' Queen of weapons ' for 
the infantry soldier. Led by these high authorities, the 
nation adopted the same idea. Unsparing ridicule was 
cast upon inventors. When in 1850-2 a gentleman 

The Needle-Gun. 41 

named Warner produced a gun capable of covering a 
range far in excess of that attained by the artillery guns 
of the period the ministry of the day laughed at him 
as a crack-brained enthusiast, and refused point-blank 
to sanction the trial he asked for. Thus no change in 
the arming of the soldier was then possible in England. 
Stranger still was the fact that a similar dislike to ex- 
amining existing methods had likewise taken hold of 
France, though she had but just recognised as her 
Emperor a man who had not only served in the artillery 
but had written a book on the subject, advocating certain 
reforms. In Austria, in Russia, and in all the other 
countries of Europe save one the same fatuous content- 
ment with the actual arming of the soldier prevailed. In 
the opinions of all, the weapons which had freed con- 
tinental Europe in 181 5 were good enough for their day. 
But, as I have indicated, to this reasoning there was one 

That exception was Prussia. It happened in this 
wise. John Nicolas Drcyse, born at Sommerda in 
Saxony in 1787, the son of a master locksmith, had been 
gifted by nature with a remarkable faculty for working in 
iron. At the age of nineteen he followed his father's 
profession at Altenburg and Dresden. There he showed 
so much capacity that in 1809 he migrated to Paris, then 
the place in Europe for the development of genius. 
There Dreyse succeeded in obtaining employment in the 
small arms manufactory of Pauli, under the immediate 
patronage of Napoleon. In that manufactory he com- 
pletely mastered the technicalities of the trade, and 
suggested many improvements in the process then 
adopted. After the collapse of 1814 he returned to his 
native place, Sommerda, and established there an iron 
manufactory, under the name of Dreyse & Kronbicgel. 

42 The Necdle-Gtin. 

In course of time the firm was entrusted with the replace- 
ment in the muskets for the army of the flint lock by the 
percussion cap. Whilst Dreyse was engaged in this work 
the idea came to him that he could improve on the per- 
cussion cap, and in 1827 he produced a weapon the 
cartridge of which, though still inserted at the muzzle, 
was ignited by a small steel rod or needle pressed through 
it by the hammer. This weapon he called the 'needle- 
gun ' (Zundnadelgewehr). He greatly interested the 
government in his invention, but recognising that it was 
not }'et perfect, he insisted on continuing to labour for 
its improvement, until in 1836 he produced a weapon 
which loaded from the breach, the cartridge being still 
ignited by the action of the needle. The government 
tried the weapon very severely at Spandau and Llibben, 
and then accepted it. They resolved to keep the inven- 
tion a secret, and served out the needle-guns only to 
the fusilier battalions. But the storming of the Berlin 
arsenal by the mob in 1848 disclosed the existence of a 
very large supply of muskets of the new pattern. The 
reason for secrecy existing no longer, the weapon was 
gradually served out to the entire army, first to the light 
infantry, and then, as the men could be instructed, to the 
other regiments. A trial on a small scale of its efficiency 
in action was made when the Prince of Prussia led an 
army corps to put down the Baden insurgents in 185 1-2. 
The prince, afterwards King William I. of Prussia, and 
later the first German Emperor, saw enough of it during 
this campaign of six weeks to realise that Prussia pos- 
.sessed a weapon in all respects superior to the weapons of 
every other nation in Europe, and under his influence the 
distribution of it to the remainder of the army was pushed 
on with the greatest rapidity. In the Austrian war of 1866 
it was this weapon which largely assisted in giving success 

Reactionary Internal Policy of Prussia. 43 

to the policy of the daring statesmen who risked all on 
the endeavour to place Prussia at the head of Germany. 
Rightly therefore may the needle-gun be regarded as a 
factor in the realisation of that cheiished dream. 

But during the years in which Prussia was engaged, 
unostentatiously and with what secrecy was possible, in 
preparing herself for a contest which was ever looming 
in the future, she was, by her reactionary policy within, 
turning against the government the hearts of her own 
people, and by her self-effacing external policy earning 
the contempt of Europe. The King, gloomy, mystical, 
unsympathetic towards the new ideas, was sinking daily 
into the hands of the absolutist party. His minister 
of public worship and public education, Raumer, and 
his minister of the interior, Westphalen, tormented the 
people by the restrictions they introduced into the ad- 
ministrations over which they severally presided. The 
system they adopted was one of continuous irritation. 
Spies were encouraged, denunciations were rewarded, 
public utterances were forbidden. The members of the 
party which had been dominant in 1848-9 were watched, 
tracked and on the most insignificant pretences thrown 
into prison. The writer recollects well how at the time 
he asked a professor in Westphalia who had taken a 
lead in the revolutionary events of 1848, and whose every 
movement was watched in the period between 1852 and 
1866, how it would all end, and received the reply, given 
in a whisper, and in a tone as though the speaker really 
believed that walls had ears, ^ in ei^ier Revolution!^ And 
it might have so ended but for the victories of 1866. 

The foreign policy directed by Manteuffel, soured by the 
surrender of Olmlitz, was as humiliating to its author as 
it was degrading to Prussia. Otto Thcodor, Freiherr von 
' ' In a revolution.' 

44 Manteuffefs Foreigit Policy. 

Manteuffel, born in 1805, had been an absolutist through- 
out his career. In the united Prussian chambers, in 1847, 
and again, on the morrow of the revolution in April 1848, 
he had spoken strongly against the principle of constitu- 
tionalism. The manner in which, during the reaction 
■which followed 1848, the advantages gained by the people 
were gradually filched from them had only strengthened 
his convictions. He had succeeded Count Brandenburg 
as minister for foreign affairs, and in December 1850 pre- 
pared to gain peace for Prussia at any price so that he 
might inaugurate a policy of repression within. As min- 
ister-president (December 19) and minister for foreign 
affairs he had, during eight years (from the 4th of De- 
cember 1850 to the 9th of November 1858), all the means 
in his hand for oppressing his country within, and for 
humiliating her without, and he thoroughly succeeded 
in doing both. 

To explain the details of his internal administration 
— to show how the popular rights gained in 1848 were 
swept away ; how the abuses which had been then 
swept away were restored ; how the education of the 
people was as far as possible restricted, and the press 
taught to subserve or be silent — would be beyond the 
scope of this work. It is mainly with the foreign policy 
of Manteuffel that we have to deal : to observe how his 
action during the crisis of the Crimean war affected the 
position of his country. 

When in April 1853 the Czar Nicholas despatched 
Prince Mcnschikoff to Constantinople to make demands 
to which it was impossible for the Sultan to agree with- 
out yielding the independence of his country, and Turkey 
appealed from the dictates of the Czar to the public 
opinion of Europe, the King of Prussia proposed a plan 
the acceptance of whi:h by the Powers and the Porte 

Prussia during the Crimean War. 45 

might possibly, although certainly not probably, have 
prevented hostilities. The demands of Russia had in- 
cluded the conceding to the Czar of the protectorship 
of the rights of the Christian subjects of the Sultan. 
It is obvious that such a concession would have estab- 
lished an ' iiuperium in imperio ' throughout Turkey ; 
that the influence of the Sultan would have waned 
before that of the Czar ; and that the way would have 
been paved for the gradual obliteration of all the rights 
of the former. Amid many suggestions for a middle 
way there came one from Frederic William IV. of Prussia. 
This was to the effect that the transfer of the rights 
over the Christian subjects of the Sultan should be con- 
ceeded, not to the Czar, but to the five great powers, 
that is, that the powers should guarantee and protect 
the rights of the Christian subjects of the Sultan. Logic- 
ally there was no difference in principle between the 
proposal of the Czar and that of the Prussian king. 
Under both the rights of the subjects of the Sultan 
would be placed under foreign subjection. It was not 
a proposition which a sovereign with any self-respect or 
regard to his own dignify and the maintainance of his 
supreme authority dare accept. So it seemed to the 
English ambassador at the Porte, Lord Stratford de 
Redcliffe, and he advised the Sultan, who with his 
ministers fully shared Lord Stratford's views, to reject 
the proposal. It was rejected accordingly. 

It will suffice if I simply record here the events which 
immediately followed. The Sultan, confiding in the 
support of the two great western powers, refused the 
conditions sought to be imposed upon him by the Czar. 
Upon this Prince Menschikoff quitted Constantinople 
(May 21). Thereupon the Sultan, to prove the sincerity 
of the concessions he had already made with respect to 

46 The Crimean War. 

his Christian subjects, pubHshed a ' hatt-i-sharif ' (imperial 
edict) in which he confirmed to the Christians all their 
rights and privileges, and appealed to his allies to support 
him against the unjust aggression of Russia. Then 
followed a conference at Vienna of the representatives 
of England, France, Austria, and Prussia. These agreed 
on the nth of July to a collective note, which on the loth 
of August following was accepted by the Czar. But as 
this note virtually conceded all that the Czar had asked 
for it was natural that the Sultan should object to it. 
He did object unless it should be partly modified, and 
the allies showed their appreciation of his reasons for 
so acting by supporting him in his demand for such 
modifications. On the 7th of September the Czar re- 
jected the modifications proposed, and maintained his 
troops, who had crossed the Pruth on the 2d of July, 
in Moldavia. Thereupon the Sultan, with the consent 
of the national council, declared war against Russia 
(October 5). On the 2d of November the English 
and French fleets entered the Bosphorus and — after the 
destruction of the Turkish fleet at Sinope (November 30) 
— the Black sea (January 4, 1S54). After many attempts 
at negotiation the Vienna conferences closed (January 16). 
England and France sent to the Czar an ultimatum, 
which he left unanswered (February 27) ; Turkey en- 
tered into an alliance with those powers to oppose, by 
force of arms, the demands of the Czar (March 12), 
and on the 27th and 28th following they declared war 
against Russia. 

During the negotiations which had preceded that 
declaration Frederic William IV. had displayed a re- 
solution, based upon the strangest grounds, not only to 
keep Prussia out of the war, but to avoid as far as 
possible taking any active part in the attempts made 

Self-effacement of Prussia. 47 

to stave off hostilities. He had made one proposal, that 
mentioned in a preceding page ; and he had permitted 
his ambassador to take part in the conference at Vienna. 
He had, moreover, corresponded directly with the Queen 
of England and, through the ordinary channel, with the 
English Foreign Secretary, Lord Aberdeen. His objec- 
tions to the war were manifold. It was ' a war for an 
idea ' ; it was a war ' which did not concern the indus- 
trious Rhinelanders and the husbandmen of Riesengebirg 
and Bernstein ' ; it was a war which had brought about 
an alliance which had filled him with disgust,' the alliance 
of England and Napoleon HI.; he would take no part 
in it unless England would guarantee him against being 
attacked by 'that adventurer'; it was a war which, 
undertaken to support ' Islam against Christians,' would 
draw upon those who should take part in it ' God's 
avenging judgment,' and the baffling of all their hopes ; 
it was a war undertaken against a sovereign whom he 
had found an acceptable neighbour ; who, he knew, was 
' ardently desirous of peace,' and who only desired an 
excuse to accept terms. ' I know,' he wrote to the 
Queen, ' that the Russian Emperor is ardently desirous 
of peace. Let your Majesty build a bridge for the 
principle of his life — the Imperial honour. He will walk 
over it, extolling God and praising Him. For this I 
pledge myself.' ^ 

In the spirit in which the words above quoted were 
written Frederic William IV. conducted the foreign 
policy of Prussia throughout the Crimean war. The 
drift of that policy may be summed up in a single 
sentence. It was a policy of isolation. It was a policy 
which deprived Prussia of all influence in the councils 

' See Martin's Life of the Prime Consort, Vol. III. pages 41 and 
onwards ; and Fyffe's Modern Europe, Vol. III. page 202 and note. 

48 Melancholy Position of Pmssia. 

of Europe. Whilst England and France were battling 
with the great eastern Colossus ; whilst Austria occupied, 
in sympathetic alliance with the western powers, the Danu- 
bian principalities; whilst Italy, represented by the House 
of Savoy, aided those powers with an army ; Prussia, 
guided by her sovereign, stood selfishly aloof. It is not 
surprising that when the war was approaching its termina- 
tion, and a Conference of the Powers met at Paris 
(February 26, 1856) to negotiate for peace, Prussia, 
though nominally one of the great powers, was excluded 
from the initiatory stages of the discussion. She was 
not admitted until the first articles of the draft treaty 
had been settled, and then only because it had become 
necessary to revise the treaties of 1841, of which she had 
been one of the signatories. Never, since the days of 
Jena and the six years which followed Jena, had Prussia 
sunk so low in the estimation of the world. Who could 
have foreseen, who would have ventured to prophesy 
at that period of her humiliation that, only ten years 
later, she would not only regain, and more than 
regain, her influence in Europe as a great power, but 
would obtain a position in Germany assuring her a 
predominance more real, more certain, more decisive 
than that which might have been gained had Frederic 
William accepted the offer made to him by the National 
Assembly of Frankfort in April 1849? 



The peace of Paris, concluding the Crimean war, was 
signed on the 30th of March 1856. On the 23d of Octo- 
ber the following year, Frederic William IV. of Prussia 
ceased to rule. He had long suffered from a cerebral dis- 
order, and the increase of this compelled him, on the 
date I have mentioned, to withdraw, temporarily it was 
thought, into seclusion. As he had no children, the exe- 
cutive power devolved for the moment on the Prince of 
Prussia, not immediately as Regent, but as Stellvertrcter, 
or substitute. The name of this prince has been men- 
tioned more than once in these pages. But, as he will 
occupy a very prominent position in those which are to 
follow, it seems desirable to give a short sketch of his 
career prior to his acceptance of the office which the ill- 
ness of the King placed in his hands. 

The second son of King Frederic William III., Prince 
William of Prussia was born at Berlin the 22d of March 
1797. On the 1st of January 1807, the period when 
his country was in the deadly grasp of Napoleon, he 
received his first commission in the army. Nominated 
captain in October 18 13, he accompanied his father 
throughout the campaign of 18 14, won the Iron Cross 
at Bar-sur-Aube (February 26), and entered Paris with 
the Prussian army. After a short visit to P^ngland with 


50 King William I. of Prussia. 

the allied sovereigns he returned to be appointed major 
in a battalion of the Guards, and set out to join the 
army on the frontiers of Belgium. He was too late for 
Waterloo, but he again entered Paris with the army. On 
his return to Berlin he devoted himself very earnestly to 
his profession, mastered all its technicalities, and in 1825 
was promoted ta be lieutenant-general and command- 
ant of the Guards. Four years later he married the 
Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar. The death of his 
father in 1840 made him heir-presumptive to the Prussian 
throne. As such he took the title of Prince of Prussia, 
and became Statthalter of Pomerania and general of 

In the first throes of the outbreak of March 1848 in 
Berlin the Prince of Prussia strongly urged upon his 
brother the necessity of putting down the revolt with 
a strong hand before making concessions to the armed 
mob. Suppress the disturbances, he said in so many 
words, then redress real grievances, and loyally carry 
out the promises you may make. His advice was not 
followed, but the people associated his name with the 
advocacy of repressive measures, and he became so 
unpopular that the King and his ministers urged him 
to retire for a time. He proceeded, therefore, for the 
second time to London, and there associating with the 
first men of the day, with the Prince Consort, with Peel, 
Russell, Palmerston, and Bunsen, he rapidly made up 
his mind as to the course which Prussia ought to pursue 
in the crisis through which she was passing. He did 
not believe in the ultimate success of the endeavours 
then being made to constitute a united Germany ; but 
he formed a very just idea as to the position which 
Prussia should prepare herself to take in the Fatherland. 
Returning to Berlin, he made a speech in the National 

King William I. of Prussia. 51 

Assembly (June 8) in which he declared himself a sup- 
porter of constitutional government. The same day he 
was nominated to the command of the Prussian army 
corps which was to put down insurrection in Baden 
and the Palatinate. A campaign of six weeks, during 
which he enjoyed many opportunities of testing the 
needle-gun, saw the complete collapse of the rebellion. 
Returning to Berlin, and appointed Governor of the 
Rhenish provinces and Westphalia, he witnessed with 
a bitter pang the action of his brother in the Hesse 
question, culminating in the surrender of Olmlitz, 
Thenceforth, and during the ministry of the author 
of that surrender, he took no part in politics. Being 
an outspoken man, however, he lost no opportunit}' 
of expressing his opinion regarding Manteuffel and his 
policy, and these utterances, everywhere repeated, gained 
for him a large amount of popularity, and caused the 
leaders of the liberal party to sigh for the time when 
power should fall into the hands of a man so honest, so 
capable, and disposed to act so fairly towards the people. 
What this man was, thus suddenly called to the 
highest office in the State, can be but dimly imagined 
from the slight sketch I have given. But to that 
something has to be added. The Prince of Prussia 
was a real soldier. He had given himself to the study 
of army organisation. He knew the deficiencies of 
the Prussian army, and he had stored in his mind the 
plans which were to repair them. He was essentially 
a sober-minded man. Partaking to a certain extent of 
the caste prejudices of his elder brother, he would yet, 
in cases of emergency, allow himself, though with great 
difficulty, when pressed by men in whom he had absolute 
confidence, to forego them. He was a marvellous judge 
of a man. On this crucial point, for a ruler, his judgment 

52 King William I. of Prussia. 

was never once at fault. When, moreover, he had found 
the man, and had proved him, he gave him his entire 
confidence. Yet so honest was his nature that even his 
most trusted counsellors knew that there was a point 
beyond which he could not be persuaded. In such 
a case, when they considered the concession they re- 
quired absolutely essential to the success of their policy, 
they did not hesitate deliberately to deceive him. And 
this indicates one weak point of his character. He was 
so true himself, and therefore so trusting, that a statement 
regarding which he would have made inquiries if uttered 
by an ordinary adviser was accepted by him unreservedly, 
and without the smallest doubt as to its accuracy, when 
tendered by one of his inner counsellors. A remarkable 
instance of this occurred immediately before the breaking 
out of the war of 1870. His bearing was ever manly 
and frank and his bonhomie and knowledge of the world 
endeared him to all about him. 

Such was the man. His first acts, after attaining 
power, seemed to justify the hopes which hailed his suc- 
cession. For Mantcuffel he entertained a dislike strongly 
tempered with contempt. The petty tyrannies of the 
minister in matters internal, and his cringing, lifeless 
policy in matters external, had combined to produce this 
feeling. Whilst still only Stellvertreter, or Deputy for 
the King, whose recovery was not then despaired of, that 
is, from the 23d of October 1857 to the 7th of October 
1858, he felt bound in conscience, as simply his brother's 
temporary representative, to maintain in office that 
minister and his colleagues. How bitter the necessity 
was may be judged from the fact that his first act on 
being nominated Regent (7th October 1858) was to re- 
move them. It is difficult to describe the popularity of 
this measure. The writer, who happened then to be at 

Good Effect of His Early Measures. 53 

Dlisseldorf, cannot forget the enthusiasm displayed aHke 
by officers of the army and the people. Nor was that 
popularity diminished when the names of the new 
ministers were known. Chief of them was Prince Anton 
of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, the head of the Swabian 
branch of the Hohenzollerns, a Catholic, and possessed of 
a lofty nature. His colleagues belonged to the moderate 
liberal party : the foreign affairs being in the hands of Von 
Schleinitz. and those of the interior entrusted to Count 
Schwerin-Putzar. On the 8th of November the Regent 
addressed to the new ministry a few remarks which were 
accepted as his programme. He was, he said, in favour 
of a moderate constitutional government; declared that the 
highest duty of Prussia was to support and maintain 
the interests of Germany ; and insisted that, for Prussia, 
the most absolute necessity was the organisation of a 
powerful army. The country responded to these words 
by returning a ministerial majority to the parliament 
(January 12, 1859). 

But before that parliament had met the question of 
Italy had begun, on the initiative of Napoleon HI., to 
engross the attention of Europe. That sovereign had 
entered into an agreement with Count Cavour, the prime 
minister of the King of Sardinia, whereby the latter 
should renew the quarrel with Austria, with the view 
to expel her from Italy and to absorb her possessions 
there — France assisting her with all her strength, and re- 
ceiving, at the successful close of the war, the districts of 
Savoy and Nice as her share of the spoil. The engage- 
ment was a secret one, but as the action of the French 
Emperor developed itself very shrewd guesses were made 
as to its tendency. I have now to examine how the 
Italian question was regarded by the Regent of Prussia 
and his people. 

54 King William takes Measures 

The fact that the Austrian Empire included many 
provinces which were non-German deprived her, in Ger- 
man opinion, of all claim to the armed assistance of Ger- 
many in the event of one or more of those provinces, and 
those provinces only, being assailed. This also was the 
opinion of the Prince Regent. But as the victory of 
the allies over Austria in Italy might possibly draw 
after it an attack upon German territory — an attack 
which could not be permitted with impunity — the Regent 
declared that it was necessary for Prussia to prepare for 
any eventuality. On the 20th of April, therefore, he 
caused the mobilisation of three army corps. The same 
month he received in Berlin the Archduke Albert of 
Austria. This prince had come to beg that Prussia 
would guarantee to Austria her Italian possessions, and 
by placing a large army on the Rhine, in an attitude 
threatening to France, would prevent that power from 
rendering to Sardinia efficient assistance. This request 
the Regent was compelled to refuse ; but, to ascertain 
clearly the political aims of Austria, he despatched 
General Willisen to Vienna. In his journey thither 
Willisen ascertained that entire southern Germany was 
prepared to stand by and support Austria, and that, 
as far as Austria was concerned, the war which had 
broken out on the 26th of April was a war of self- 
defence. Resolved to be ready for any event, the Regent 
then, the day after the battle of Solferino (June 24) 
mobilised the 7th and 8th Prussian army corps and on 
July 4 the 9th and loth corps of the Bund army. He 
at the same time demanded from the Diet the command- 
in-chief of the entire German force and the sole direction 
of the same. Austria, by her representative at the Diet, 
was willing to comply with the first demand, but de- 
sired that the direction of the troops should be controlled 

To baffle the French Designs against Anst7^ia. 55 

by the Diet, that is, by herself as paramount in the Diet. 
When the Regent refused to agree to this proposal there 
ensued a curious but characteristic phase in Austria's 
policy. At the very time when the Emperor Napoleon, 
frightened by the losses he had sustained at Solferino, 
and still more by the conviction that not only was he 
no general himself but that he had no good general 
under his command, was fronting the formidable quad- 
rilateral, and negotiating at Villafranca terms of a 
peace which he felt necessary to France and to him- 
self, Prussia, by means of the Regent, was arranging 
a plan by which a formidable German army should 
force Napoleon to forego the advantages which Solferino 
had apparently secured to him. The preliminaries of 
peace between France and Austria had been negotiated 
at Villafranca, and Prince Windischgratz had taken them 
to Berlin to obtain the opinion upon them of the Regent. 
The latter expressed to Windischgratz, as representing 
Austria, an opinion strongly adverse to their acceptance. 
He pointed out to him the insecure position of Napoleon 
III., the preparations of Prussia and the rest of Germany, 
and how the French Emperor might be forced to quit 
his prey. Windischgratz carried back these opinions to 
his master. The question which Austria had to decide 
was whether she would give up Lombardy to Sardinia 
or maintain her position in Italy at the cost of seeing 
the Prince Regent of Prussia at the head of a German 
army, and invested with its sole direction. Jealousy of 
Prussia prevailed. Rather than witness the great in- 
crease of her influence in Germany, which must have 
resulted from the position of the Prussian Regent she 
renounced Lombardy. 

The marked step towards Italian unity evidenced by 
the cession of Lombardy to the House of Savoy con- 

56 The Jealous Policy of Austria 

tributed largely, with the liberal administration of the 
Regent, to revive the longing for unity in Germany itself. 
On the i6th of September there was founded at Frank- 
fort an association called the National Society (National- 
verein), which set forth the idea of centralisation of the 
executive power of Germany in the hands of the King 
of Prussia ; one leadership, also that of Prussia, for the 
German armies ; and one diplomatic centre. This idea, 
circulating all over Germany, provoked in all the smaller 
States manifestations in favour of the Prussian headship. 
The Regent had, however, nothing of the adventurer 
in his nature. Essentially a Prussian, and looking for- 
ward to regain for Prussia, by legitimate means, the 
position in Germany to which she was entitled, and 
which she had lost, he directed his efforts rather to the 
reform of the military principles of the Bund than to 
the fostering of an agitation which might disturb the 
confidence of rulers. He wished by his measures to 
gain the trust of the party which had at heart the real 
welfare of Germany rather than that of German rulers 
individually. Prominent amongst those measures was 
the reorganisation on a sound basis, not only of the 
Prussian army, but of the German army under the 
control of the Diet. To ensure an efficient direction 
of the latter, his representative at Frankfort proposed, 
in January i860, that in the event of a war in which all 
Germany should be interested the army of the Bund 
should be divided into two equal portions, the southern 
portion to be commanded by a nominee of Austria, the 
northern by a general named by Prussia. But Austria 
would not yield an inch, and by her influence the 
proposal was rejected the following April. Nor was 
the opposition to the Regent's schemes for the general 
welfare of Germany confined to the southern States. 

Baffles King William, 57 

Noting how, in the event of a war, the coasts of North 
Germany, and the flourishing ciiies which commercial 
enterprise had built upon them, would be exposed, de- 
fenceless or nearly so, to hostile cruisers, he proposed, 
at a conference of States whose territories were bordered 
by the sea, held for the purpose at Berlin the same year, 
that by their united efforts a fleet should be built, con- 
sisting of ten ships of the line and twenty frigates, to 
protect the sea-coast. By the votes of the smaller States 
the proposal was indeed carried ; but when it was further 
suggested to build a line of railway to connect Minden 
with Jade Bay (Jadebusen), an inlet of the North Sea, 
to the point where now stands, thanks to the efforts 
of William when he became king, the flourishing naval 
station of Wilhelmshaven, Hanover absolutely refused 
to permit the line to traverse one single ell of her ter- 

Convinced by this refusal, by the action of the Diet, 
and by other facts of more or less significance, that he 
could expect neither sympathy nor support from the 
larger States of Germany, all of which preferred to lean 
upon stationary Austria, the Regent turned his attention 
to the modelling of his army on a basis which should 
make it strong and efficient. Already in the time of his 
brother certain reforms had been initiated. Not only had 
the needle-gun become the armament of all the infantry, 
but the number of men under the colours had been largely 
increased by the putting in force of the law, which during 
the period between 18 15 and 1848 had fallen into partial 
disuse, requiring from the conscript a service of three 
years. The system which provided for the mobilisation 
of the Landwehr had grown rusty with time. When, 
on the breaking out of the Franco-Austrian war in 
1859, the Regent had mobilised the Prussian army, he 

58 The Necessity for Army Reform. 

discovered that for all practical purposes the Landwehr 
battalions were most inefficient. He found them filled 
with middle-aged, even old men, who had indeed been 
soldiers in their early ) outh, but who, in the long interval 
between their actual service and the time of their recall 
to duty, had forgotten all that they had ever known ; and 
from the habits contracted in the interval the majority 
were utterly unfit for warfare. To restore efficiency to 
the army it was necessary, he felt, to introduce a radical 
change of principle, to alter the basis of the organisation. 
To effect this he required a man whom he could ab- 
solutely trust : a man imbibed with his views regarding 
organisation, convinced of the necessity to Prussia of an 
army which could fight, of the necessity likewise that 
Prussia should regain her proper place in Germany and 
in Europe. 

Here it was that his thorough knowledge of men, of 
which I have spoken, came into play. He had been 
intimately connected with the army for fifty years, and 
it is scarcely too much to affirm that he had read the 
character of every man of note in its ranks. When the 
hour for reorganisation arrived his thoughts then turned 
instinctively to a soldier whom, in the period of inactivity 
of Manteuffel's premiership, he had noticed, and with 
whom, since his assumption of his high office, he had 
come much into contact. This man's name was Albert 
Theodore Emil, Count von Roon. On the 5th December 
1859 the Regent appointed him minister of war. 

Of the new war minister, whose action contributed so 
largely to the gaining for Prussia of the position she now 
occupies in Europe and the world, it is necessary here to 
say something. A Pomeranian by family and birth, he 
was born in 1803, and spent his early years at Alt-Damm, 
near Stettin. He was sent in 18 16 to the school of 

The War Minister, Vo7i Roon. 59 

cadets at Kulin in West Prussia ; joined two years later 
the cadet corps at Berlin ; entered (January 9, 1821) the 
14th infantry regiment as second lieutenant ; visited, 
1825-7, the military public schools ; was transferred in 1826 
to the 15th infantry regiment; and in October 1828 was 
nominated to comm.and the Berlin cadet corps as its 
instructor. At the instigation of Karl Ritter, the famous 
geographer, who at that time was director of studies of 
the cadet corps, Von Roon compiled a handbook of 
geography, which was published in 1832 under the title 
of Outlijies of Information regarding Peoples and Coun- 
tries? At a later period, 1847-55, ^^e work was 
greatly enlarged, and had an enormous circulation. In 
1832 Von Roon returned to his regiment at Minden, but, 
the following November, General Muffling, who had been 
appointed to command the corps of observation which 
was to watch the siege of Antwerp by the French (Nov- 
ember-December 1832), summoned him to his head- 
quarters. In February 1833 Von Roon inspected the 
citadel of Antwerp, was transferred to the topographical 
bureau, and, recommended by the knowledge he displayed 
of surveying and the technicalities of military science, 
was nominated, March 30, 1836, to be captain on the 
general staff. Whilst engaged in the hea\y duties 
devolving upon him in that capacity he wrote a book 
entitled The Military Oiorography of Europe"- and, his 
attention having been directed to the civil war then 
raging in Spain, another entitled The Iberian Feuinsula ; 
from a Military Standpoint:' Of this, however, only the 
first part appeared. Whilst engaged in 1841 in making 
a reconnaissance on duty through Bohemia, Moravia, and 

^ Gntndziige der Erd- Volker-and Staatenkunde. 
* Militdrische Ldnderbesckreibung von Etiropa. 
' Die iberische Halbinsel, Vom Standpunkte des Militdrs. 

6o General Von Roon. 

Hungary, he was attacked by a very severe illness. On his 
recovery he was nominated major (1842) of the general 
staff of the second army corps, but the year following was 
ordered back to Berlin, to resume there his lectures. In 
1844 I'^G was selected to give to Prince Frederic Charles 
lessons in geography and tactics, and accompanied him 
in 1846 not only to the University of Bonn but also in 
his travels through Switzerland, Italy, France, and Belgium, 
This companionship was the means of cementing a bond 
of friendship, respect, and regard between the young 
prince and his mentor. On the 13th of March 1848 Von 
Roon returned to the practical exercise of his profession, 
was appointed in May to the general staff of the 8th 
army corps, and on the 22d of August following became 
chief of that staff. In the difficult crisis of that year 
and its immediate successor Von Roon displayed a judg- 
ment and a knowledge which drew upon him the com- 
mendation of his superiors. He took part in the short 
campaign in Baden in 1849, ^i^^) promoted in 1850 to be 
lieutenant-colonel, was nominated in December of that 
year (1850) commandant of the 33d regiment of infantry, 
stationed then at Thorn, afterwards at Cologne. On 
the 2d of December of that year he was advanced to 
the rank of colonel. On the 26th of June 1856 he 
received command of the 20th brigade of infantry in 
Posen ; was promoted less than three months later (Octo- 
ber 15, 1856) to be major-general; and, November 22, 
1858, was nominated commander of the 14th division 
at Dlisseldorf 

His varied experiences in many offices, especially in 
the mobilisations of 1832, 1849, ^"d 1850, had convinced 
Von Roon of the glaring deficiencies of the Prussian army 
system, and he had thought out many plans for remedy- 
ing these, especially those existing in the infantry. 

Great Qualities of Von Roon. 6 1 

These plans he caused, in June 1858, to be communi- 
cated to the Prince Regent. In May 1859 he became 
lieutenant - general. The mobilisation of that year 
served to confirm in the mind of the Regent the re- 
presentations made to him by Von Roon. He sent for 
him, therefore (September 2), to Berlin to work out in 
the office of the minister of war his plans for the re- 
organisation of the army. Von Roon accompanied the 
Regent to Breslau, and a little later w^as appointed 
member of two commissions, which, under the presidency 
of the Prince Regent and General Wrangel respectively, sat 
in Berlin to perfect the plans for the reorganisation. In 
constant communication with the Regent, he made so deep 
an impression on the mind of the latter that, on the 5th 
of December 1859, he was nominated minister of war. 
He held that post for fourteen years (1859 to 1873), 
witnessing the perfect working of the machine which he 
had made, and the accomplishment by it of results greater 
by far than those which his master had contemplated in 
1859. He was the third man in the illustrious triad 
presided over by the sovereign. Like the three brothers 
described in the Arabimi NigJits, one of whom had the 
gift of supernatural sight, the second of supernatural 
transport, the third of supernatural healing, each of the 
Prussian triad was essential to his companions. The daring 
policy of Bismarck, the perfect strategical knowledge of 
Moltke might alike have failed but for the thorough 
organisation of the machine which had been accomplished 
by the genius of Albert Theodore Emil, Count von Roon 
The plan of reorganisation worked out by Von Roon 
in conjunction with the Prince Regent, in 1859-60, may 
be thus briefly summarised. It began by reciting the 
existing law imposing universal liability to military 
service. This law was in the future to be strictly en- 

62 Vo7i Rooiis Plans f 07'- Re -organisation. 

forced. Such service was limited in the line to three 
years, in the reserve to four, in the Landwehr to nine, 
making a total service for each man of sixteen years, 
instead of the nineteen till then authorised. By this 
means the peace establishment was raised from 150,000 
men to somewhere about 213,000; the yearly conscrip- 
tion was increased from 40,000 to 63,000 recruits ; the 
infantry battalions were increased from 135 to 253 ; and 
eighteen fresh cavalry regiments were to be raised. On 
the occasion of a mobilisation the Landwehr were not to 
be called out, whilst the line and the reserve were to be 
strengthened, so as to permit the rapid assembly of an 
army excellent alike in quality and in numbers. The 
yearly increase of expenditure for these changes was 
calculated at something in excess of 10,000,000 thalers, 
the cost of the first dispositions at about 5,000,000. 
Such were the heads of the plan submitted by the new 
war minister to the Lower House of Parliament on the 
5th of February i860. 

Its reception was not favourable. The deputies 
looked rather to the amount of money required than to 
the necessity that Prussia, with her straggling territories, 
should be ready for war. Some deputies questioned 
the wisdom of making any sweeping change. The 
increase of service in the line from two to three years 
caused especially great murmuring. The minister there- 
fore, dreading a defeat if he should persist with the 
measure in its actual form, withdrew it, and submitted 
on the 5th of May another proposal to the House. In 
this he simply demanded an extraordinary credit of 
9,000,000 of thalers for the purpose of maintaining the 
army for the space of one year — till the 30th of June 
1 86 1 — in a higher state of efficiency for war than then 
existed. At the same time he emphatically declared 

Nominal Modifications of the Plan accepted. 63 

that he brought forward this measure in order that sub- 
sequent resolutions regarding the army might not be 
prejudiced ; and he pointed out that the condition it 
proposed for the army for the year ending the 30th 
of June 1 86 1 was only provisional. Though he said 
this, both he and the Regent were fully determined, 
come what might come, with the consent of the House 
or without it, that the law should be absolutely per- 
manent. The Lower House, after some discussion, 
granted the credit, and gave a provisional sanction to 
the proposed reorganisation ; that is, it limited its pro- 
visions to the 30th of June following. Beyond that date 
there was to be no sanction for their existence. The 
Regent, however, paid no heed to this limitation, but 
proceeded to raise the additional infantry battalions and 
the additional cavalry regiments, and to bestow upon 
them their names and their colours. 

The army bill had but just been passed when an 
event occurred which at the time attracted the attention 
of Europe. The Emperor of the French had cherished, 
especially since his triumph over Austria in 1859, the 
secret hope that it might be possible, by fanning the 
jealousy between Austria and Prussia, to regain for 
France on the Rhine the frontier she had possessed in 
the time of the first empire. So early as 185 1 his 
minister to Berlin, the Count de Persigny, had sounded 
Frederic William IV. on the subject of an alliance which 
should benefit Prussia at the expense of Austria, the 
reward to France for her assistance being left purposely 
vague. But Frederic William was not only disinclined 
to a policy of adventure, he detested the adventurer who 
proposed it. During the active part of his reign, then, 
the subject was not again referred to. But in February 
1859, after the accession of the Regent, and before the 

64 Prussia declines tJie FrencJi OvertuvLS. 

declaration of war with Austria, Napoleon caused cer- 
tain proposals advantageous to Prussia to be made at 
Berlin. The Regent declined to entertain them, and, 
as we have seen, mobilised the Prussian army to defend 
the soil of Germany in case the turn of events should 
bring hostilities near to her door. After the war, the 
Emperor still clinging to his ideas, and believing that the 
same tactics which had gained for France the cession of 
Savoy and Nice might procure for her advantages on 
the Rhine, again opened negotiations with the Regent, 
proposing a personal interview, on the ostensible ground 
that he might convince him of his peaceable intentions, 
and prove to the Germans, who had attributed to him 
aggressive tendencies, that they had misjudged him. The 
Regent consented, and the interview took place at Baden- 
Baden on the 1 5th- 1 7th June i860. But the Regent had 
not gone alone. With commendable foresight he had 
taken care to be accompanied by German princes whom 
any proposal for the aggrandisement of Prussia at the 
expense of her neighbours would certainly affect. Beyond, 
then, making a passing allusion to the advantages which 
would accrue to Prussia from the possession of Schleswig- 
Holstein the baffled Emperor confined himself to gen- 
eralities, and the meeting had no result. It deserves, 
however to be mentioned, as indicating alike the inner 
hopes of the French Emperor and the caution of the 
Prussian ruler. The latter, engaged in the formation of an 
army the real object of which was to secure for Prussia her 
proper place in Germany and in Europe, and nothing, as 
he then believed, beyond that, had had the opportunity of 
considering contingencies which an aggressive policy was 
to open out to him. He had no desire that his policy 
should be aggressive ; he was content to live at peace 
with his German neighbours, but it should be a peace 

The Views of King Willia7n in i860. 65 

which would include respect for Prussia, which should 
give her the influence in German affairs which was her 
due. Above all, he desired no secret understandings 
with the French Emperor. 

The year i860 passed away, then, without further 
events deserving notice. The Regent and his war minister 
gave all their attention to the reorganisation of the army 
— the first step towards the recovery by Prussia of the 
position which the feeble policy of Frederic William IV. 
had temporarily lost. 



On the 2d of January 1861 Frederic William IV. died. 
The Regent succeeded him, under the title of William I. 
His accession was very popular. He was almost uni- 
versally regarded as an honest man, a man of his word, 
a man who had at heart the good of his country rather 
than that of a caste or a section of the community. His 
first act, the granting of an amnesty for all political 
offences (12th of January) confirmed the hopes of the 
people. His speeches at this time give the best possible 
indication of the subject which had possession of his 
mind. In his proclamation assuming the kingship, dated 
January 7th, whilst stating that he regarded his duties 
towards Prussia as bound up with those towards Germany, 
he declared that the task which Prussia had to fulfil in 
and for Germany was dictated by her glorious history, 
and rested for its accomplishment on the development of 
the plans of military reorganisation actually in progress. 
In the speech from the throne on the opening of the 
chambers the same ['spirit made itself clear. That the 
Lower Chamber did not fully partake his views was mani- 
fest in the answer to the address which they voted. In 
this they said, in so many words, that the reorganisation 
of the army was very well in its way, but it was not every- 
thing ; that the reform of the Bund, and certain popular 

The Prussian Pi'ogress Party. 67 

demands required attention. They confirmed, however, 
the grant of the 9,000,000 thalers for reorganisation as an 
extraordinary expenditure, with the exception of 750,000 
thalers, which they struck off (May 31). The scs'^ion 
closed on the 5th of June. Four days later saw the for- 
mation of a new liberal party, known as the 'German 
progress-party.' Its programme was (i) the reform of the 
Bund in a sense favourable to Prussia ; (2) the placing the 
central power in the hands of Prussia ; (3) the representa- 
tion of the German people; (4) the real responsibility of 
ministers, the trial of political and press offences by a 
jury, the reform of the Upper House, and economy in 
the army administration by the advocacy of two years 
service in place of three. This party at once attracted 
to itself all the wavering elements of the House and 
the country. It became the great principle with which 
the King and his ministers had to struggle for the ac- 
complishment of their plans. At the moment, and up to 
the year 1866, it represented, there can be no doubt, the 
majority of the people of Prussia. But, pure as were its 
principles, its leaders wanted in one particular point the 
foresight and the political acumen which characterised 
their opponents. That point was the absolute necessity for 
the thorough reorganisation of the army. How, when 
the crisis came, they were reminded of this in a manner 
which neither Prussia, nor Germany, nor Europe will ever 
forget will be told in its place. 

A general impression prevailed at this time throughout 
Germany that the King had not risen to the height of the 
situation he occupied as ruler of the kingdom which 
every Prussian believed would eventually be compelled to 
assume the leading part in the formation of German unity. 
The aspirations which had been called into prominence by 
the events of 1848, though tempered and cooled by failure, 

68 The General Feeling of Prussia. 

still glowed in many a German heart. An expression 
used by the Archduke John at a public banquet held at 
Cologne in 1849 — 'No Austria, no Prussia, but one 
united Germanland, which shall stand as firmly as our 
mountains ' — had penetrated the hearts of the people, and 
was repeated with peculiar fervour at the period of the ac- 
cession of King William, But as time advanced, and the 
King, from whom so much had been hoped, appeared to 
the minds of the unreflecting multitude to care for little 
but the reorganisation of the Prussian army, a feeling of 
disappointment arose, and men began to ask one another 
whether, after all, he was more likely than had been his 
brother to initiate a bold policy of union. This feeling 
vented itself at Baden-Baden in an attempt made by 
a young man, Oscar Becker, to assassinate the King. 
Becker, though born at Odessa, was of German parentage, 
well instructed in jurisprudence and knowledge of finance, 
a good mathematician, and learned in the Turkish and 
Arabic languages. To effect his purpose he had travelled 
on the 1 2th of July from Leipsig, where he was studying, 
to Baden-Baden. There, on the 14th, he met the King, 
who was taking the waters, in the Lichtenthal Alley, and 
at a distance of only three paces discharged at his face, 
point-blank, both barrels of a pocket pistol. One of the 
balls struck the King on the neck, but inflicted only a 
slight contusion. When arrested Becker admitted that 
the act had been committed in cold blood, and was the 
consequence of his conviction ' that the King had not risen 
to the height of his position, the effecting of the union of 
Germany.' Becker was sentenced by the Baden Court of 
justice to twenty years' imprisonment, with intervals of 
solitary confinement; but, on the intercession in 1866 of 
the King, whose action then had proved the shallowness 
of the reason for the crime, he was released on condition 

The Position of the Bund. 69 

that he should quit Germany for ever. He died, two 
years later, in Alexandria. 

That the King, whilst bent on preparing the instru- 
ment which alone could assure to Prussia her proper 
position in Germany, had neither forgotten nor neglected 
the position of the States of Germany, bound hand 
and foot by the action of the Bund to the car of Austria, 
was proved by the answer he gave in December of the 
same year to a suggestion emanating from the Saxon 
government urging the reform of the Bund. He stated 
his conviction that the remodelling of the Bund's con- 
stitution could only be accomplished by means of single 
close alliance between the several States which consti- 
tuted the Bund. How such alliances were to be con- 
tracted was not stated, and it would have been difficult 
to state plainly. The fact was that at this period 
the reform of the Bund was a question which, though 
it was burning under the surface, each German power 
shrank from approaching, though each of them knew^ 
that in a very short time it must be approached 
and solved. The policy of William consisted solely in 
the preparing of Prussia for the day of solution. At 
that moment neither he nor any prominent statesman in 
Germany had forecast the manner in which, by the action 
of one man, the question was to become within one year 
so pressing, so burning, as to compel the invocation of 
the God of battles. 

Meanwhile the position in Prussia was being very 
sharply defined. When the Parliament met in the be- 
ginning of 1862 it was at once apparent that the ministry 
was not strong enough to meet the attacks of the new 
progress-party supported by the old liberals. The King 
then resolved to maintain at all costs his army reorganisa- 
tion scheme, dismissed his ministry, appointed a new one, 

70 Opposite Vieivs of King and Parliament. 

with Prince von Hohenlohe as its chief, dissolved the 
parliament, and made a special appeal to the country to 
support his policy. The appeal was fruitless. On the 
19th of May the new parliament met, and though for 
a brief period it seemed inclined to support the measures 
submitted to it by the ministers, it struck when the army 
budget came under discussion. It ruthlessly refused the 
sum demanded for extraordinary expenses, that is, the 
sum required to carry out the reorganisations planned 
by the King and Von Roon. 

The King had anticipated this result. He had been 
long searching for a man who would dominate the 
parliament : a man who, recognising as he had recog- 
nised the necessity of recovering for Prussia her place 
in Germany, should devote all his energies to the attain- 
ment of that end. But he must be a strong man, a man 
of convictions, of nerve; he must be 'a man of instincts 
and insights ; a man, nevertheless, who will glare fiercely 
on any object, and see through it, and conquer it ' ; 
a man who had ' intellect, who had will, who had force 
beyond other men.' ^ Such a man King William believed 
he had found in Otto Edward Leopold, Count von 
Bismarck. On the 8th of October 1862 he nominated 
this man to be minister-president and minister of foreign 

The new minister was comparatively young. He 
was born the ist of April 1815 at the family estate of 
Schonhausen in the district of Magdeburg. At the age 
of seven years he was sent to school at Berlin, and, with 
the exception of a few months spent in 1832-3 at the 
university of Gottingen to study law and finance, he 
remained there for some years. In due course he passed 
the examination in the two subjects mentioned, received 

' Carlyle's French Revolutio)i. 

The Count von Bismarck. 7 1 

the licence enabling him to practise in the courts of law, 
went through the military course required by the law, 
studied agriculture at Greifswald in Pomerania, and then 
in 1839 assumed the co - management of the family 
estates. On his father's death in 1845 he took up his 
residence at Schonhausen, which he then inherited. The 
same year he became a member of the provincial par- 
liament of Pomerania, and in 1846 of that of Prussian 
Saxony. In this capacity he took a leading part in 1847 
in the constitution of the first united parliament at Berlin, 
posing as a most decided champion of the conservative- 
monarchical principle, in opposition to the efforts made 
to introduce constitutionalism into Prussia. With the 
second united parliament which met in Berlin after the 
revolutionary events of March 1848 Bismarck did not 
much concern himself He preferred to remain on his 
estates, devoting his time to the earnest consideration of 
the problems which were perplexing all the statesmen 
of the day. He attended, however, in the summer of 1848 
the meeting at Berlin of the conference of conservatives 
known as the 'Junker parliament,' and contributed articles 
to the Kreuz-Zeitung newspaper which caused great sen- 
sation. In the parliament which met on the 7th of August 
1849, and in which the conservative element predominated, 
Bismarck took his position as recognised leader of the right. 
His great principle was the building up in Prussia of a 
powerful kingdom, and the maintenance of such an under- 
standing with Austria as would enable the two powers to 
have complete control of German affairs. In this sense 
he opposed the efforts in favour of union made by the 
King at the assembly he had convened at Erfurt (1850), 
and even approved of the convention of Olmlitz, regarding 
it as unavoidable under the circumstances. 

As the ablest and most energetic supporter of ab 

72 Bismarck. 

solutism Bismarck drew upon himself at this period the 
attention of the leading men of all parties. The re- 
actionary government of Manteuffel especially appreciated 
a man of his strongly pronounced absolutist views. In 
May 185 1, therefore, he was nominated secretary to the 
Prussian legation at Frankfort ; three months later, he 
was appointed Prussian representative to the Diet. 
Bismarck went to Frankfort with the fixed determination 
to bring about that cordial understanding between the 
two great German powers which had been the dream of 
his early manhood. He quitted Frankfort nearly three 
years later, January 1855, completely convinced that no 
such understanding was possible ; that the Austrian policy 
was based on the principle of using the secondary States 
of Germany for her own aggrandisement, and for the 
humiliation of Prussia ; that for the latter power there was 
but one course — to carve out her own destiny by the con- 
tinuation of the policy employed by Frederic II. in 1740-2. 
From having been the friend with whom it was desirable 
to work with cordiality, Austria had become, in his eyes, 
the enemy whom it would be necessary to smite to the 

On leaving Frankfort Bismarck proceeded as Prussian 
ambassador to St Petersburg. The embassy was especi- 
ally agreeable to him, for, with the scheme for smiting 
Austria dimly forming in his mind, he was anxious to 
secure the friendship of the ministers of the Czar, then 
deeply disappointed with the ' ingratitude ' of the court 
of Vienna. The conduct of Austria during the Crimean 
war, then raging, the semi-hostility she had displayed, 
and her understanding with the western powers, had 
been regarded at St Petersburg as a shameful return 
for the aid afforded to her by Russia in the Hungarian 
war of 1849. The conduct of Prussia, on the contrary, 

Bismarck's Plans of Policy. 73 

in steadily refusing to listen to the advances of England 
and France, had conciliated the gratitude of the Czar 
and his ministers. Of this state of feeling Bismarck 
took full advantage, and it cannot be doubted but that 
the three years of his residence at St Petersburg laid the 
foundation of that alliance which was so useful to Prussia 
in her struggles in 1866 and 1 870-1. 

In the spring of 1862 Bismarck exchanged the em- 
bassy at St Petersburg for that of Paris. There he came 
in contact with the sovereign whose inscrutable policy 
was then exciting the attention of Europe. Napoleon 
III. did not impress Bismarck. He looked upon him 
as a dreamer, a trickster whose policy would best be 
met by plain blunt phrases and decisive action. For 
the policy which allowed France to embroil herself in 
an expedition to Mexico when Europe was in a state 
of tension he had the most profound contempt. Such 
a policy, however, he recognised, might favour his de- 
signs against Austria, for it might paralyse the action of 
France in Europe at the critical moment. 

Bismarck had been but a few months at Paris when 
he was summoned by his sovereign to return to Berlin, 
September 23, to assume an ad interim position in 
the ministry. A fortnight later, October 8, he became 
minister-president and minister for foreign affairs. 

We have looked at his training : it is time for us 
now to discuss the character of the man. 

Strong in his convictions, unshakeable in his determina- 
tions, a Prussian to the backbone, Bismarck had shaped 
in his mind a policy which was to place Prussia at the 
head of Germany. With the carrying out of that policy, 
which he took an early opportunity of announcing as 
a policy of 'blood and iron,' nothing was to be allowed 
to interfere, neither scruples of conscience, regard for 

74 J^fi^ Method of Attaining Success. 

truth, considerations of honour. All these must give 
way. Not only that, but all the elements which combine 
to aid the course of an unscrupulous man were to be 
enlisted in his service. If the policy was a policy of 
' blood and iron,' it was also a policy of ' fraud and 
falsehood.' The reader will find that it required a large 
exercise of the two last-named agencies to force Austria 
to that war which finally excluded her from the rest of 
Germany. Well had Bismarck studied the career of 
Frederic II. He could not, indeed, concentrate in his 
own person the qualities which gave PVederic the first 
position in Germany. But working under a master 
the one idea of whose life at that period was to make 
Prussia great, and in concert with colleagues one of 
whom would provide him with an army whilst the other 
would think out a strategy, he could repress internal 
opposition ; then, throwing himself with avidity into the 
arena of foreign policy, and taking up the dropped threads 
of 1740-2 and of 1756-63, he could complete the plan 
which the ablest and most unscrupulous of the Hohen- 
zollerns so ably began and so unwillingly left unfinished. 
Such was the man, such was his policy: let us now con- 
sider his actions. 

On the 23d of September Bismarck had accepted the 
post of first minister ad interim on the resignation of the 
Prince von Hohenlohe. With characteristic energy he 
went straight to the task. On the 29th he informed the 
House that if the budget of the ministry were defeated, 
he would reintroduce it in the next session, and with it 
a new bill for the reorganisation of the army. The day 
following, addressing the budget commission, he made use 
of the phrase, alike historical and prophetic, that 'great 
questions were not to be solved by speeches and the 
resolutions of majorities, but by blood and iron.' This 

■tH/izcey ,^d!A^»»y' 


Bismarck over-rides the Parliament. 75 

expression produced little effect on the committee, for 
on the 7th of October the Lower House rejected the 
reorganisation scheme. Bismarck then caused the scheme 
to be passed by the Upper House, and prorogued the 
parliament. He had invented the theory that if the three 
great constitutional bodies could not agree the view taken 
by the majority of the three should prevail. He would in 
the meantime govern and levy taxes without a budget. 
In vain did the Lower House protest that the decisions of 
the Upper House were contrary to the constitution, and 
therefore illegal. The ' man of insight and instincts ' was 
not to be moved by mere words. On the 1 3th, five days 
after he had assumed the office of foreign minister, he sent 
them back to their constituents. 

From their constituents the deputies received thanks 
and congratulations for their patriotic conduct. The 
country evidently was with them. The people could not 
understand the daring conduct of this new minister, in- 
experienced in parliamentary affairs, who would thus 
trample upon the privileges of their representatives, and 
declare he would levy taxes, not only without their 
sanction but against their express decisions. The 
three months that followed were spent by both parties 
in preparing for a renewal of the struggle — a struggle 
regarded by the large majority of the people as affecting 
the very basis of constitutional government ; by the 
Crown and the ministers as involving the very existence 
of Prussia as a great power. 

The Lower House reassembled on the loth of January 
1863. Its members had returned in a very resolute 
mood. In reply to the speech from the throne they 
launched complaints against the statesman who had ad- 
ministered the affairs of the country without a budget, 
had disregarded the votes of the majorit}', and had 

76 Bismarck defies the Parliament. 

spent money which had not been voted. A new cause 
of complaint soon arose from the action of the govern- 
ment in signing a convention with Russia (February 8) 
for the mobihsation of an army corps on Prussian Poland, 
in view of the disturbances in Warsaw and its neighbour- 
hood, without communicating the same to the Lower 
House. The opposition fully believed that this mobilisa- 
tion, coinciding as it did in date with the reintroduction 
of the army reorganisation scheme, would be used by 
the government to extort support for their measures. 
In effect, on the 8th of February, Von Roon did introduce 
his new army bill. It was found to be in principle a 
reproduction of the old one. It was then submitted to 
a committee. On the 24th of April this committee 
made a report, not only condemning the measure as it 
had been drafted, but taking it paragraph by paragraph 
and making its own amendments in each, entirely alter- 
ing its scope, and representing it to the House as a bill 
which fixed the period of service with the line at two 
years. A fierce debate, in which the war minister, Von 
Roon, was repeatedly called to order by the vice- 
president of the Assembly, Herr von Bockum-Dolffs, 
followed the presentation of the report (May 11). 
But the action of the vice-president only stimulated 
the audacity of Bismarck. The following day he an- 
nounced to the House that the members of the ministry 
would not again appear within its precincts until the 
president of the Assembly should have renounced all 
disciplinary authority over them. As the House declined 
to accept this condition the members of the ministry 
withdrew. A crisis followed. On the 21st the King 
announced that he fully supported his ministers in their 
contention. The following day the House voted an ad- 
dress to the King; to the effect that the wide differences 

Bismarc/cs Foreign Policy. yy 

existing between his advisers and the deputies could only 
be healed by a change of men and a change of system. 
The reply of the Government was to prorogue the par- 
liament (May 27). Three days later (June i) a royal 
ordinance placed the press under police inspection and 
governmental superintendence. 

Whilst the King and his ministers were thus engaged 
in forcing upon an unwilling, because uninstructed, par- 
liament a scheme for army reorganisation which alone 
would enable Prussia to assume that position in Germany 
which was not only her due, but which the very liberals 
who opposed the scheme wished her to assume, Bismarck 
was introducing that aggressive system of foreign policy 
which could not fail to lead sooner or later to a rupture. 
It happened that the affairs of electoral Hesse, temporarily 
settled by the convention of Olmlitz, again demanded 
the interference of the Bund. The hand of the Elector 
had been so heavy that his subjects loudly called for in- 
terference. In 1850, it will be recollected, Prussia had 
championed the cause of the people, Austria that of the 
Elector, and Austria had prevailed. This time Bismarck 
resolved that the influence and the hand of Prussia should 
be felt. Whilst, then, the Diet was nodding over the 
appeal which had been made to it, Bismarck addressed 
directly to the Elector a pressing demand to concede and 
to maintain the just rights of the estates of his realm. 
Then, again, Austria had expressed her dissatisfaction 
with the effect on her trade of a commercial treaty which 
Bismarck when at Paris had negotiated with France, and 
with the proposals regarding it which Prussia had made 
to the Diet. Bismarck seized the opportunity to address 
a very sharp despatch to Vienna, in which he charged the 
Austrian government with deliberate hostility to Prussia, 
and shadowed forth in plain terms the di>ruption of the 

yS Bismarck's Foreign Policy. 

Bund in case Austria and the central States of Germany 
should persist in their hostile action. In the course of 
the correspondence which ensued Bismarck indicated very 
clearly the thoughts which directed his policy and the 
end he proposed. He told Austria that she would act in 
her best interests if she were to remove her centre of 
gravity to Buda-Pest instead of seeking to root the 
same, by her repeated attacks on Prussian influence, in 
Germany. Although such utterances tended to the isola- 
tion of Prussia in Germany, by inducing the central and 
southern States to cling more closely to Austria, they 
were nevertheless deliberate. Bismarck felt that to effect 
his end it was necessary that Prussia should break with 
past traditions, should show herself ready to look the rest 
of Germany in the face, should be ready to make good 
her pretensions, not by means of despatches and protocols, 
but by ' blood and iron.' The utterances were then 
simply preparatory to an action which in the inner circles 
of the Prussian capital was avowed. 

As a step in the same direction we have again to con- 
sider the dealings of the same minister with Russia. We 
have seen how careful he had been to conciliate the 
friendship of the statesmen of the Czar during his resi- 
dence at St Petersburg. An event happened shortly 
after his accession to the foreign office which gave him 
the opportunity of cementing the friendships and union of 
interests he then had formed. On the 22d of January 
1863 an insurrection, which gradually extended to all 
Russian Poland, broke out at Warsaw. The sympathies 
of Paris and London went deeply with the Poles. Not so 
those of Bismarck. There were Poles in Prussia. In- 
surrection might breed insurrection. Bismarck had no 
sympathy with Polish aspirations. More than that, the 
opportunity was an excellent one for coming to a thorough 

Bismarck conciliates Russia. 79 

understanding with St Petersburg. The time, he felt, was 
not very distant when Prussia would require the friendly- 
neutrality of her northern neighbour. Bismarck then con- 
cluded a convention with Russia for a combined operation 
against the insurgents in the event of their crossing the 
Prussian frontier, closed that frontier against all fugitives, 
and, through Von Roon, directed the mobilisation of a 
strong army corps, which he placed in observation to watch 
events. Austria, who had likewise Polish subjects, dis- 
played no such readiness to meet the wishes of the Czar, 
It can readily be seen, then, how this action on the part 
of Prussia contrasted with the hostility of the western 
powers and the callous indifference of Austria ; how it 
impressed the minds of the statesmen of St Petersburg, 
and predisposed them to return in kind the service thus 

There were two other questions which came to the 
front during this and the following year which tended 
to sharpen the differences, and eventually to cause an 
open breach, between Prussia and the rest of Germany. 
These were the reform of the Bund and the Schleswig- 
Holstein question. 

There was no desire now on the part of Austria to 
avoid the solution of the first of those questions. Under 
the guidance of her Emperor, Francis Joseph, a single- 
minded and honourable man, Austria had been led into 
the path of constitutional government, and in her orderly 
methods, and in the frank and sincere co-operation of her 
statesmen, she presented a very favourable contrast to her 
northern rival. The high tone assumed, and the pressure ex- 
ercisedby Bismarck, had, however, frightened the Austrian 
statesmen, and they were as willing now to conciliate as 
they had been formerly unbending. In the autumn of 
the year the two Emperors had met at Gastein, and 

8o Questions between Austria and Prussia. 

Francis-Joseph had endeavoured to win the consent of his 
nephew to a scheme which he had formed, in conjunction 
with the princes of middle and southern Germany, for 
the assembling at Frankfort of a congress of German rulers 
to deliberate on the reform of the Bund. But Bismarck 
was not at Gastein, and although King William expressed 
tentatively his approval of the scheme, he decline to commit 
himself until he should have seen Bismarck. Before the 
matter had been finally settled King William quitted 
Gastein. The invitations addressed to all the countries 
represented at the Diet were a little later duly de- 
spatched. By sixteen of the States represented at the 
Diet they were accepted ; by the seventeenth, Prussia, 
the invitation was declined. The King had at Berlin 
come under the influence of his minister, and al- 
though the princes assembled at Frankfort despatched 
one of their number, the most acceptable of all, King 
John of Saxony, to William, to induce him to change 
his mind, the King persisted in holding aloof, and the 
projected congress fell through. 

It is easy to understand why Bismarck persuaded his 
master to decline. The only conditions, he declared, 
upon which a resettlement of the Bund was possible 
were — absolute equality of Prussia and Austria in the 
Diet ; the right of veto to each with respect to the 
declaration of war ; and a representation of the German 
people proceeding from direct voting on a franchise 
common to all. These were his three points, not one 
of which, he argued, would be conceded by a congress 
of princes. It is probable he was right. 

On the failure of the congress there quickly followed 
the reopening of the Schleswig-Holstein question. The 
treaty of London ^ had laid down, in terms accepted by 

' Vide page 34. 

Strained Relations ivith Denviark. 8 1 

Austria and Prussia alike, the recognition of the integrity 
of the Danish monarchy, and of Prince Christian of 
GlUcksburg as heir-presumptive of the whole dominions 
of the reigning king. It had been arranged, however, 
that the rights in Holstein of the German Bund should 
remain unprejudiced, and the King, Frederic VII., had 
promised to conform to certain rules in his treatment of 
both principalities. This agreement the King had, in his 
zeal for union in the territories under his sway, persistently 
and continuously broken. The German population of the 
duchies had more than once appealed to the Diet to 
interfere on their behalf. There had been correspondence, 
even threats, but still their wrongs remained unredressed. 
But in March 1863 the Diet refused any longer to hold 
its hand. It plainly informed King Frederic that if he 
did not recall an edict he had then recently issued, impos- 
ing unauthorised burdens on the duchies, it would proceed 
to federal execution. Frederic replied by incorporating 
Schleswig with the rest of the monarchy. In consequence 
of this act the Diet, on the ist of October, decreed 
federal execution, that is, armed intervention against the 
King of Denmark as Duke of Holstein. 

Before the execution could be enforced the King of 
Denmark died (November 15). If his successor. Prince 
Christian of Gliicksburg, would but withdraw the ob- 
noxious edicts it appeared possible that the German 
intervention might be avoided. But the feelings of the 
Danes had been roused to a height too great to permit 
of a peaceable solution. The new king was forced to 
bow to the popular will, to give his assent to a con- 
stitution which included Schleswig as a part and parcel 
of Danish territory, and which levied taxes for the 
national expenditure from Holstein. But the popular 
feeling in Germany had been roused to a level higher 


82 The Diet declai'es for War. 

than it had reached since 1848. From the moment 
King Christian had given his assent to the new con- 
stitution intervention was not to be avoided. P'rom all 
parts of the Fatherland the cry came to Frankfort to 
abolish the conditions of the treaty of London, and to 
bring Schleswig-Holstein under the Duke of Augusten- 
burg into a close federal union with Germany. The cry 
prevailed, and the Diet committed the execution of its 
orders to Saxony and Hanover. 

Never in the history of Europe has the truth of the 
wise saying of King Solomon been more thoroughly 
manifested than it was upon this occasion,^ Although 
the execution of the decree of the Diet had been openly 
entrusted to Saxony and Hanover, and the contingents 
from these two kingdoms had entered Holstein to ac- 
complish one accepted purpose, the federal union with 
Germany of the two duchies under a prince of their 
own, Bismarck had resolved not only to thwart this 
accepted and partly executed scheme of the Diet but 
so to manceuvre as to win the duchies for Prussia 
alone, with the aid mainly of Prussian troops, and to 
incorporate them into the Prussian monarchy. 

He carried out this scheme with all the audacit}', 
all the deception, all the masterfulness of his bold and 
unscrupulous nature. His first care was to hoodwink 
Austria. Since the death of Felix Schwarzenberg 
Austria had not possessed a statesman capable of 
taking a comprehensive view of her requirements as 
a nation which, largely German, was still more largely 
composed of foreign elements. The minister who, at 
the period at which we have arrived, possessed the 
confidence of his master in the direction of the foreign 

"The beginning of strife is as when one letteih out water.' — Proverbs 
xvii. 14. 

Bismarck seizes the Direction of It. 8 


policy of the empire was Count Rechberg, a statesman 
of the school of Metternich, regarding all other dangers 
as small compared with the spread of democratic in- 
fluences. Bismarck had been associated with this man 
at Frankfort. He knew him well, his weak points as 
well as his good qualities, and he played with him as 
a cat plays with a mouse. By persuading him that the 
gratification of the popular demand for the admission 
into federal Germany of the two duchies would intensify 
and rouse to fever heat democratic influences throughout 
the Fatherland, and by guaranteeing the possessions 
of Austria in the case of a war arising from her union 
with Prussia, he persuaded Rechberg to unite with him 
in treating as null and void the resolution of the Diet ; 
to join the troops of Austria to those of Prussia in 
order that they, the conservators of order, might enter 
the duchies, not as mandatories of the Bund but as the 
instruments of two independent and allied powers. 

It .seems incredible that Austria, the Austria whom 
Bismarck had told that she must remove her centre of 
gravity to Buda-Pest, the Austria whose measures he 
had constantly and openly thwarted, should walk 
quietly into the transparent trap he had laid for her, 
should run the risk of forfeiting all her influence with 
the minor states of Germany for the sole purpose of 
playing into the hands of her hereditary enemy. The 
only possible explanation is the reality of the dread felt 
by Rechberg, painted in exaggerated colours by Bismarck, 
that the action of the Bund, obeying the popular impulse, 
would open the floodgates of revolution, and restore the 
dreaded days of 1848. Austrian statesmanship with 
regard to foreign affairs has rarely been conspicuous for 
its excellence, but we shall see as we progress that, 
during the period between 1863 and 1866 inclusive, it 

84 Austria blindly folloivs Him. 

was at its very lowest ebb. But, bad as it was in 1866, 
no mistake which she made equalled in its terrible con- 
sequences the initial mistake made by Count Rechberg 
when he not only agreed that Austria should draw the 
Schleswig-Holstein chestnuts from the fire in order that 
Prussia might eat them, but ran the risk of forfeiting the 
support of the rest of Germany, and laid his country open 
to the after consequences — the sudden turning upon her 
of the long-pent hatred of the unscrupulous man who 
had duped him. How high Austria would have stood 
had Rechberg refused to betray the Bund, how unassail- 
able she would then have been, how complete would have 
been the exposure of the designs of Bismarck, it is easy 
to see now. Unfortunately for Austria it was a sealed 
book to Count Rechberg. 

Having secretly arranged for the co-operation 01 
Austria, Bismarck took the next step. That step was to 
pose as an upholder of the sacredness of treaties. The 
treaty of London had agreed to recognise King Christian 
as King of Denmark and as sovereign of the duchies. 
Bismarck declared to the Diet that by that treaty Prussia 
would abide. This declaration turned all Germany, the 
hoodwinked Austria excepted, against Prussia. Never 
had she, or rather never had her minister, been so un- 
popular. For the voice of Prussia coincided with the 
voice of Germany. The Lower House of Parliament at 
Berlin refused, we shall see, the supplies asked for a 
Prussian attack on the duchies. Nor in the Diet did the 
Prussian policy find a single supporter, except, of course, 
that of her deluded victim. The proposal Bismarck 
made to the Diet to despatch a summons to King Chris- 
tian to annul the constitution of the previous November, 
and, in the event of his refusal, to occupy only Schleswig, 
was all but unanimously rejected. Then Bismarck laid 

The Plans of Bismarck tuifolded. 85 

his cards on the table. He would have his way despite 
the Diet. In concert with Austria he despatched an 
ultimatum to Copenhagen demanding the repeal of the 
November constitution. King Christian refused. Where- 
upon, on the 1st of February 1864, Prussian and Austrian 
troo^.s entered Schleswig. The Danish war had begun. 
Bismarck had let out the waters which were not to sub- 
side until his ally, Austria, should be excluded from the 
rest of Germany. 



Whilst Bismarck had, in the manner described, directed 
the foreign policy of Prussia, the King and Von Roon 
had, despite the opposition of the Hberals, been pushing 
on the reorganisation of the army with giant's strides. 
By the legal fiction which Bismarck had invented, and 
to which the King had given his public sanction, the 
taxes refused by the Lower House, but approved by the 
Crown and the Upper House, were still levied. But the 
discontent of the people was great. In the quiet corners 
of the cities the word ' revolution ' was muttered in no 
dulcet tones. The more advanced liberals had persuaded 
themselves that the private soldiers, mostly men sprung 
from the people, would fire ^ in the air. These feelings 
found expression in the parliament newly elected, which 
met on the 9th of November 1863. The government had 
taken extraordinary pains to secure a majority in this 
parliament, but the feeling of the country had proved 
too strong for them. The first act of its members 
was to vote an address to the Crown requesting that the 
Schleswig - Holstein question might be settled by the 
recognition of the rights of the Duke of Augustenburg. 

' I write this from personal knowledge. I was much in Prussia in 1863-4, 
and was assured, over and over again, that in the cause of constitutionalism 
the troops would not fire on the people. 

opposition of the Prussian Parliament. Z^ 

Any other course, the address added, would threaten 
the sohdarity of the two duchies, and would produce 
strife and civil war in Germany. Bismarck spoke against 
the address, but in vain. In his reply to it the King, 
whilst evading compliance with its prayer, demanded a 
loan of 12,000,000 thalers to enable him to carry 
out the policy of the government. The House, roused 
to indignation, not only refused the loan but rejected 
also the budget, the army reorganisation bill, and the 
law muzzling the press. The government, careless of 
its opposition, passed the budget through the Upper 
House, and then on the 25th of January dissolved 
the Lower House. The King's speech on the dissolution, 
written and read by Bismarck, abounded in reproaches 
against the Lower House. They had sinned grievously 
against patriotism. In the main he was right. The 
Piussian people had not comprehended that, for Prussia 
to resume her place in Germany, it was essential she 
should have an army on the model devised by the King 
and his war minister. Seven days later Austrian and 
Prussian troops entered Schleswig and occupied Ecken- 
forde. The day following they attacked the Danewerke, 
an ancient fortification, consisting of a very thick wall 
from thirty to forty feet high, extending for about ten 
miles along the southern frontier of the duchy, from 
the North Sea to the Baltic. In the attack upon this 
work there happened something which gave great con- 
fidence to the Austrians, and produced an impression 
regarding the Prussian soldiers which continued till 1866. 
The extreme left of the Danewerke rested on Missunde, 
a town situated on the river Schlei, a narrow inlet of 
the Baltic. It was arranged that whilst the Austrians, 
under the Freiherr von Gablenz, a very capable officer, 
who had served under Radetzky, should attack the centre, 

88 The Danish War, 

the Prussians, led by Prince Frederic Charles, better 
known as the ' Red Prince,' a cousin of the King, should 
assail the left at Missunde. The arrangement was carried 
out, but notwithstanding the needle-gun, now distributed 
to every soldier in the Prussian army, the Red Prince 
was repulsed ; nor was it until Gablenz, victorious in 
his attack in the centre, brought his men against the 
flank of the defenders that Frederic Charles was able 
to force his way in. The Danes, yielding to numbers, 
fell back on Diippel, a fortified village covering the 
narrow channel which separates the isle of Alsen from 
the mainland. Whilst the Prussians took a position at 
Flensburg, at the west end of the fiord of the same name, 
thence to watch Diippel, Gablenz, marching northwards, 
occupied the town of Schleswig on the 6th of February, 
caught and defeated the Danish rearguard, after a very 
bloody battle at Oeversee, and entered Jutland on the 
8th of March. There he remained until a month later 
he was joined by Frederic Charles. 

That prince had experienced more difficulties than 
had Gablenz. Diippel was strong by natiire, and 
had been made stronger by art. Its front works, 
ranging over an extent of 3000 metres, had been 
fortified according to the newest methods. Raised on 
an elevated plateau, they commanded the country in 
front, whilst the flanks resting on the sea were protected 
on one side by the Danish fleet, on the other by the 
batteries of Alsen. Before this place Frederic Charles 
had appeared on the nth of February. After very 
many skirmishes he opened his batteries on the i6th of 
March, bombarded the place that day and the day 
following, but, making but little impression, sat down 
on the 29th to a regular siege. On the 17th of 
April his engineers reported the breaches practicable 

The Danish War. 89 

The following morning he led his troops to the 
assault, and in a very brief space of time carried the 
place. The garrison retreated into Alsen, whither the 
Prince could not, by reason of the extreme narrowness of 
the channel, in the face of the protecting batteries, pursue 
them. He pushed on rather to join the Austrians in Jut- 
land. The Danes, not strong enough to contend against 
the united forces, evacuated the province (April 29). The 
allies then proceeded to occupy the mainland as far as the 
series of inland water basins known as the Llimfiord, ex- 
tending from the North Sea to the Kattegat. 

So far as actual fighting was concerned the war was 
over. Europe had looked on with folded arms whilst 
a treaty signed by all the great powers only eleven years 
before was being deliberately broken. It is true that 
two of the parties to the treaty which guaranteed the 
succession of the Danish possessions, inclusive of Schles- 
wig and Holstein, to the Glucksburg family, — the Duke 
of Augustenburg renouncing his claims for a compensa- 
tion in money, — were the infringers of the treaty. Of 
the other three, Russia was bound by promises to support 
the policy of Prussia. The conduct of England and 
France would, however, seem to demand explanation. 

It has been customary to attribute the inaction of 
the western powers in this grave European question to 
the increasing coldness between the courts of St James 
and the Tuileries, and to the fact that, because the 
former had not responded favourably to the invitation 
of the French Emperor to a congress to be held at 
Paris in 1863, therefore the latter rejected the proposals 
regarding Denmark which might, if acted upon, have 
saved her. But the refusal of Napoleon III. to co- 
operate with England was prompted by considerations 
of a character altogether different. No one more than 

go Reason zvhy France did not interfere. 

he had fanned the frowning mistrust between Austria 
and Prussia. Ever since he had compelled Italy to cede 
Savoy and Nice he had nursed the hope of being able 
to play a similar game with the two great German 
powers. To set them against one another, to witness 
their gradual exhaustion, then to step in as arbitrator, 
receiving as payment either the frontier of the Rhine or 
the liberty to annex Belgium, had become to him a fixed 
resolve. It is remarkable that whilst cherishing such 
dreams he should have directed his foreign policy on 
lines which would most certainly prevent the fulfilment 
of them. That, at a period when Bismarck was beginning 
that series of intrigues which had for their object the 
compelling Austria to fight at a disadvantage, Napoleon 
should have entered upon the Mexican adventure was 
a madness paralleled only in history by the tenacity 
with which his uncle had clung in 1812 to the posses- 
sion of Spain. When the hour arrived for which he had 
been hoping and scheming he was then powerless to 
utilise to his advantage the chance which it offered. 

He declined then, in 1864, to respond favourably to 
the advances of England, because he sympathised with 
Bismarck's avowed intention to thrust Austria from her 
seat of predominance. For Denmark he really cared 
very little : for a civil war in Germany a great deal. It 
was not, then, pique, but a well-thought-out policy which 
dictated his reply to England : a policy excellent for 
France if he had carefully husbanded his resources to 
support it, but which, in the absence of any such states- 
manlike action, would blunt his sickle on the barren 

As for England, it is only necessary to state that, 
under the guidance of the aged Lord Palmerston and 
the aged Lord Russell, her policy was a policy of words 

The Contested Provinces ceded. 9 1 

only. Those words, however bold, were not intended to 
be the precursors of action. ' I look upon Lord Russell's 
despatches as so much waste paper,' ^ said the Bavarian 
representative at Frankfort, the Baron von der Pfordten 
to the English minister, Sir Alexander Malet. 

But, though they did not interfere, the neutral powers 
made an effort to settle the differences by diplomacy. A 
conference met in London on the 20th of April, two days 
after the storming of Dlippel, and after three weeks of 
negotiation induced the belligerents to accept an armistice. 
At the time Schlesvvig, Holstein, and Jutland were in the 
occupation of the allies. Denmark was powerless. At 
the conference, however, she was misled by the expressions 
of sympathy emanating from the English and French 
representatives, and she refused an offer which, taking 
from her Holstein, would leave her the northern part of 
Schleswig. The war, consequently, recommenced (June 
26). The result was such as everyone foresaw. Alsen 
was bombarded and taken, the Danes were driven to the 
northern extremity of the mainland, and they were finally 
compelled to accept terms far harder than those they had 
rejected in May. An armistice was agreed to on the i8th 
of July. On the 26th a conference of the powers was 
held at Vienna. On the 30th of October a treaty was 
signed by which Holstein, Schleswig, and Lauenburg 
were ceded to the allies. Denmark also agreed to pay 
a large sum to defray the expenses of the war. 

After successful war follows the distribution of the 
spoil. Before they entered Denmark the invading powers 
had made no precise stipulation as to the manner in which 
the territories to be conquered should be appropriated. 
It had simply been settled by agreement that the two 

1 Overthrow of the Germanic Confederation by Prussia in 1866, by Sir 
Alexander Malet. 

92 Plans of Bismarck. 

powers 'engage to establish the future condition of the 
duchies only by way of mutual understanding,' The 
time for the settling of the nature of this mutual under- 
standing had now arrived. It was a question abounding 
with difficulties for Austria, for, as we now know, it was 
the full intention of Bismarck to arrange, not 'a mutual 
understanding,' but, rather, such a ' mutual misunderstand- 
ing' as would enable him, at any chosen moment, to fix 
a quarrel upon that Power. 

It was Bismarck's firm determination to procure the 
cession of the duchies to Prussia. They supplied all 
that of which Prussia was in need : in Kiel, a magnificent 
harbour ; in the narrownesss of the peninsula the possi- 
bility of uniting the North Sea and the Baltic by means 
of a canal — a frontier which might easily be made 
defensible. The acquisition of such a territory was so 
valuable that the utterance of falsehood and the practice 
of fraud might well seem, to an utterly unscrupulous man, 
not only justifiable but patriotic. That he had been 
able to delude Austria to go so far with him as to be a 
partner in the expulsion of the Danes was a marvellous 
feat of diplomacy. But it was a part only of the great 
scheme. The awakening for Austria would come when 
the time for the division of the spoil should arrive. Then, 
with an army increased and reorganised, supplied with 
an irresistible weapon, he could easily find means to pick 
the quarrel, the solution of which would either place 
Prussia at the head of Germany or roll her into an abyss 
more terrible than that formed by the whirlwind of 1 801-7. 

Such was the policy of Bismarck : a policy truly 
of adventure, a policy which could succeed only by 
deliberately deceiving Austria until the pear should be 
ripe — a policy rightly called 'of fraud and falsehood,' to be 
supported at the proper time by force. It had two dis- 

Plans of Bismarck. 93 

tinct bases : the deceiving of Austria and the preparation 
of an army which should be irresistible. 

Yet it cannot be concealed that in this policy of ad- 
venture Bismarck was encouraged by four or five potent 
factors. He could count upon the sympathy of Russia ; 
upon the blindness, and, above all, on the pride of the 
Habsburgs, always displaying itself at the wrong moment, 
always damaging to their country ; upon successfully de- 
ceiving phlegmatic England ; upon the secret sympathy 
and neutrality of the Emperor of the French, who, believ- 
ing that the struggle would be long and exhaustive, and 
in the end disastrous to Prussia, hoped to step in towards 
its conclusion, as the armed arbitrator, and claim as his 
spoil the frontier of the Rhine. But he too was hood- 
winked, and, unlike his fellow-adventurer who armed 
whilst he plotted, he plotted but did not arm. 

To carry out his plans Bismarck proceeded with his 
accustomed dissimulation and his accustomed audacity. 
The first question to arise was as to the division of the 
spoil. On this point, as I have said, the two powers had 
had, before the outbreak of hostilities, but the vaguest 
understanding. It was necessary for Bismarck to break 
to his ally only gradually his intentions. Accordingly, in 
the first instance, the occupation of the conquered country 
was thus arranged. One Austrian brigade, consisting of 
five battalions of infantry, two squadrons of cavalry, and 
a battery of artillery, occupied Holstein, whilst two 
Prussian brigades of infantry, amounting to eighteen 
battalions, eighteen squadrons of cavalry, and three 
batteries of artillery, held Schleswig. It was understood 
by Austria that the occupation should only continue until 
the Duke of Augustenburg should have subscribed to 
certain necessary conditions, the claims of this prince hav- 
ing been recognised by all the powers, inclusive of the 

94 Bisviarck ivorks His Scheme. 

Prussian representative, at the later conference of 

But it was no part of Bismarck's policy to hand over 
the duchies to the Duke of Augustenburg. Accordingly, 
he obtained an opinion from the crown jurists of Berlin 
to the effect that the claims of King Christian (whom he 
had just dispossessed) to Schleswig-Holstein were legal, 
and that the Duke had no rights whatever in the duchies. 
To give to Austria some idea of this tendency of his 
policy he communicated to Vienna, February 22, 1865, 
the terms ^ upon which Prussia was ready to admit the 
claim of the Duke of Augustenburg. These conditions 
scarcely veiled the determination of Bismarck to seize 
the duchies for Prussia. They provided a system under 
which the Duke would be a mere puppet, and the duchies 
would be Prussian all but in name. Needless to say that 
they raised a storm on all sides. Austria would not have 
them ; the Duke himself declined to listen to them ; 
almost the entire population of Schleswig-Holstein pro- 
tested against them. Austria, partially awakened now 
to the aspirations of Bismarck, formally demanded the 
re-establishment of the independence of both duchies, 
and that their future relations to Prussia should be 
regulated in consonance with the federal compact. The 
Diet, too, on the motion of Bavaria, Saxony, and Hesse, 
passed a resolution expressive of a hope that pending 
the final solution of the question the duchy of Plolstein 
should be handed over to the Duke of Augustenburg. 
It was clear to Bismarck that, whilst his preparations 

' They were : that the finance, postal, and railway systems should be 
assimilated to and combined with those of Prussia ; that Prussian law, in- 
cluding the obligation to serve, should be introduced ; that the regiments 
should take the oath of fidelity to the Prussian king; that the piincipa! 
military positions should be held by Prussian troops. 

He hoodwinks Austria. 95 

for war had not been completed, the feeling of all 
Germany was opposed to the pretensions he had raised 
for Prussia. It was necessary, therefore, to temporise. 
After some correspondence he arranged to meet the 
Austrian minister, Count Blome, at Gastein ; and there, 
on the 14th of August 1865, he signed with him a treaty 
— known as the Convention of Gastein — in virtue of which 
Holstein was transferred to Austria, and Schleswig to 
Prussia, 'without prejudice to the continuation of the rights 
of both powers to the whole of both duchies.' The second 
article provided for the establishment of a German fleet 
and the fixing of the port of Kiel as the federal harbour, 
under conditions which gave Prussia complete control ; 
the third, for the establishment of Rendsburg as a federal 
fortress, to be garrisoned alternately by the troops of the 
two powers ; the fourth stipulated that, until the carrying 
out of the partition agreed to in the first article, Prussia 
should have possession of two military roads through 
Holstein, the one from Lubeck to Kiel, the other from 
Hamburg to Rendsburg; the fifth gave to Prussia the 
privilege of erecting and using a telegraphic wire between 
Kiel and Rendsburg, and the right for its post-office 
carriages, with its own employes, to circulate on both 
railway lines throughout the duchy of Holstein, her 
railway line from LUbeck to Kiel being also assured a 
passage across the Holstein territory ; the sixth provided 
for the entry of both duchies into the Zollverein ; the 
seventh assured to Prussia the right of directing through 
the Holstein territory the intended North Sea canal, 
under her absolute control throughout its course ; the 
seventh freed the duchy of Lauenburg from all contribu- 
tion to the costs of the war ; the eighth conferred that 
duchy upon Prussia, that power binding herself to pay 
to Austria, in exchange for the cession, 2,500,000 Danish 

96 Bismarck lioodivinks His Sovereign. 

rix-thalers within four weeks of the ratification of the 
treaty ; the tenth provided that ' the execution of the 
hereinbefore agreed upon partition of the joint sovereignty 
shall follow as speedily as possible upon the ratification 
of this Convention ' — by the two sovereigns — ' and at 
latest be carried out by the 15 th of September.' 

The plain English of this convention was to secure 
absolutely to Prussia Schleswig and Lauenburg, and the 
right of constant interference, under any number of pre- 
texts, in the affairs of Holstein. The Emperor of Austria 
met his uncle the King of Prussia to ratify it at Salzburg 
on the 20th of August, and there it was signed and sealed. 
Both sovereigns signed in good faith, the King regard- 
ing it as a most favourable agreement for Prussia, the 
Emperor as the best bargain he could make to escape the 
consequences of the entanglement Count Rechberg had 
unwittingly made for him. At this period, and from this 
period onwards, the King of Prussia was not in the com- 
plete confidence of his chief minister. An honest man, 
he would have started back from Bismarck, as Hazael did 
from the prophet Elisha, with a similar exclamation on 
his lips, had Bismarck opened to him his whole heart, told 
him of the necessity of hoodwinking his nephew, of strik- 
ing him down in due season, of keeping him in good 
humour until the war preparations, then fast approaching 
completion, should be completed. The convention was 
bad enough for Austria. Had it rested there there would 
have been indeed constant misunderstandings and bicker- 
ings. But the matter was not to rest there. The conven- 
tion was to be made the instrument for casting down the 
supremacy, for annihilating the influence, of Austria in 

So confident was Bismarck that he had now laid the 
train which he could explode at any moment that 

Bismarck and Italy. 97 

immediately after the ratification of the convention he 
hastened to Biarritz, there to engage the Emperor of the 
French to permit him to secure the active alliance of 
Italy, and to observe himself absolute neutrality during 
the war he was projecting. 

The Italian government had greatly at heart two 
objects : the cession of Rome and the cession of Venetia. 
The first was in the hands of Napoleon III., whose troops 
occupied the eternal city, the second depended solely 
upon Austria. Bismarck had argued that the desire to 
possess the Venetian territories was so intense in the 
Italian heart that it would move Italy to form an 
aggressive alliance with Prussia to gain them by force of 
arms. He was conscious, however, that Italy would not 
move without the sanction of Napoleon. Were that 
sanction to be given, and were that alliance to be con- 
cluded, he would succeed in dividing the Austrian forces, 
and compel her to maintain half her troops in Italy. He 
had already made guarded overtures to Italy, but these 
had not been very favourably received, and on the con- 
clusion of the Convention of Gastein the Italian minister, 
La Marmora, believing that the distribution of the spoil 
of the Danish war had been amicably arranged, had 
actually despatched a confidential envoy to Vienna to ask 
if the Emperor would cede Venetia on the payment by 
Italy of a very large sum of money and on the assump- 
tion by her of a fair share of the Austrian public debt. 

Such was the situation when Bismarck arrived at 
Biarritz. No authentic record of the proceedings at that 
famous meeting has been published, and there is but one 
man living who could supply one. But we can imagine 
the scene. On the one hand, the tempter from Berlin, 
who had read the character of his august host, who under- 
stood every movement of his mind, who could divine his 


98 Bismarck at Biarritz. 

ev^ery thought on the subject of the impending war ; and 
this tempter, with one distinct settled purpose before him, 
a purpose which he could attain only by the silent co- 
operation of his host ; a tempter ready to humour, to 
promise, to agree by word of mouth, but determined 
to sign nothing — as determined not to perform what he 
might be compelled verbally to promise. He had gone 
there absolutely convinced that, for his influence with 
Italy, for his own neutrality, Napoleon would demand his 
price. His price he knew to be the cession of the Rhine 
frontier or of Belgium, possibly of both. For the services 
to be rendered he was prepared, I have said, to promise 
largely, to humour the French Emperor to the full extent 
of his hopes, little caring for the fact that he was leading 
him into a fool's paradise. As little cared he for the rude 
awakening of his ally when his point should have been 
gained, his victory achieved. The Prussian army would 
fight the more confidently for the victory it had won. 
The French army was in Mexico. 

On the other side was Napoleon HI. A plotter by 
nature, accustomed to intrigue, he had encouraged 
Bismarck in all his schemes against Austria. Bismarck 
had a very frank nature, especially with those he desired 
to gain. With Napoleon HI. he had been especially 
frank. None of his aspirations had been withheld from 
him. This frankness had thoroughly misled Napoleon. 
He never before 1866 credited Bismarck with the great 
talent he undoubtedly possessed. He looked upon him 
rather as a boaster, a sort of Bobadil, who, with abundance 
of ambition, overrated his own capacity. Such a blunt 
man, speaking so openly of his aims, could easily be over- 
reached. He did not think for a moment that as a 
military power Prussia was a match for Austria. He 
was the more ready, therefore, at Biarritz, to listen to the 

He hoodivinks Napoleon III. ' 99 

suggestion that he should signify to Italy his approval of 
her making common cause with Prussia. He was content 
to accept from his frank, outspoken guest — in return for his 
whisper to Italy and his engagement that France should 
be neutral — vague, possibly, indeed, definite promises of 
cessions on the Rhine frontier or of a free hand with 
regard to Belgium. But these promises were merely 
verbal promises. Confident that the war would be a long 
one, Napoleon required no more, fully resolved that before 
the chance should arrive France should be ready. 

He had in his mind the recollection of his transaction 
with Cavour. He did not, possibly, reflect that the cir- 
cumstances differed from one another in almost every 
particular. In 1859 he had helped Cavour with his army, 
and he was in a position to insist on the carrying out of 
the contract. In 1865-6 he was almost in the position 
of a general without an army. 

Bismarck quitted Biarritz, taking with him the con- 
sent of the French Emperor to all his plans. On his 
arrival at Berlin he set to work to accomplish the three 
purposes he had immediately in view : the goading of 
Austria to the point of quarrel, the cementing of an 
offensive and defensive alliance with Italy, the presen- 
tation to the honest mind of the King of the conduct 
and motives of Austria in a light the absolute reverse of 
the true light. He accomplished these three necessary 
schemes. When he had in March 1866 goaded Austria, 
in the manner to be indicated, to arm in self-defence, he 
arranged, and on the 8th of April signed, an offensive 
and defensive treaty with Italy. This treaty provided 
that if within three months Prussia should take up arms 
for the reform of the German federal system Italy would 
immediately declare war against Austria. Both parties 
were to put into the field their whole strength, and peace 

lOO Bismarck drives Austria from the Duchies. 

was not to be made until Austria should have agreed to 
cede Venetia to Italy. 

Bismarck's representation that Austria, by her conduct 
in Holstein, was pandering to the democratic principle for 
the purpose of fostering internal discontent in Prussia 
gained the King. Bismarck had drawn up the Convention 
of Gastein in such a manner that he could use it to create 
and to foment difficulties with Vienna. His policy was 
based on the principle which, according to ^sop, animated 
the wolf in his conduct towards the lamb. He had in- 
structed the statesman whom he had sent to govern the 
duchy of Schleswig, General Manteuffel, a son of the 
minister of that name, to maintain the strictest discipline 
in his duchy, to allow no meetings, to repress every 
expression of opinion. The Austrian governor of 
Holstein, on the other hand, had been directed to intro- 
duce into that duchy the tolerant principles which guided 
constitutional Austria in her dealings with her German 
subjects. It followed that public meetings, conducted in 
an orderly manner, were permitted in Holstein. It is 
quite possible that at some of these meetings observations 
were made regarding the different systems prevailing in 
the two duchies, and that regrets were expressed that a 
union of the two under the Duke of Augustenburg had 
not been effected. Bismarck used these expressions of the 
Holsteiners — not, be it remarked, of the Austrians — to fix 
the blame on Austria, and to press home, in his inter- 
course with the King, his charges against Austria, indi- 
cated in this paragraph. 

Then, the King having been gained, he openly charged 
Austria with disturbing the peace of Germany. Vainly 
did Vienna protest that her intentions were of the purest. 
Fruitlessly did the Diet propose an alternative arrange- 
ment for the administration of the duchies. The only 

Bismarck forces Austria to War. loi 

alternative scheme acceptable to Bismarck was their 
bodily transfer to Prussia. He would even have rejected 
that, for it would have deprived him of the goad he held 
in his hand for the tormenting and exciting of Austria. 
To such a length at last did his complaints proceed that, 
on the 1 6th of March, Count Karolyi, the Austrian am- 
bassador at Berlin, received orders to demand point-blank 
from Bismarck whether ' Prussia meant to break the treaty 
of Gastein.' Bismarck was not quite ready for war, the 
alliance with Italy not having been signed. He therefore 
replied with a decided ' No,' but he is said to have added : 
' If I had the intention, do you think I should tell you ? ' ^ 
Count Karolyi, however, a shrewd diplomatist, read 
between the lines, and in his despatch reporting the 
conversation informed his government that he considered 
war inevitable. From that moment x'lustria began, 
slowly indeed and hesitatingly, to arm. 

Prussia had been arming for five years. By the efforts 
of the King and his ministers, in direct opposition to the 
votes of the national parliament, she had organised an 
army which could be made in three weeks superior to any 
force that Austria could put into the field at the end of two 
months. Yet, when Bismarck heard of the slow and hesitat- 
ing movements of Austria in the way of arming, he did not 
hesitate to accuse her of endeavouring to force on war. In 
this sense he addressed a circular to all the States of the 
Germanic Confederation, in which he informed them that 
' he had seen with surprise that Austria was preparing for 
a great war ' ; asked them : ' what is the object of Austria 

' Overthrow of the Germanic Confederation by Prussia in 1866, 
by Sir Alexander Mallet, Bart, K.C.B., late H.M. Envoy Extraordinary 
and Minister Plenipotentiary at Frankfort. Sir Alexander adds : ' Deter- 
mined to provoke Austria to act in some way that should put her in the 
wrong, M. de Bismarck did not find it an easy task to irritate the Im- 
perial Government beyond endurance.' 

I02 Bismarck forces Austria to War. 

in this armament ? ' , told them that Prussia ' had not made 
the slightest counter-armament ' ; intimated that, ' in the 
face of the Austrian dispositions, we on our side,' i.e. 
Prussia, ' can no longer delay.' He concluded by asking 
the federated States separately whether, in the face of 
the threatening 'armaments of Austria, and to what 
extent, Prussia could count upon their good dispositions.' 

These expressions, paraphrased by Sir Alexander 
Malet, may thus be rendered : ' Prussia has irrevocably 
broken with Austria. The imperial government takes 
a menacing attitude. Prussia rather courts the issue, 
and is ready to fight. Prussia expects that all Germany 
will side with her against Austria. The confederation is 
antiquated, and must be remodelled. Prussia must have 
the control of the armed force of Germany.' 

This circular bears date March 24th. A fortnight later 
the treaty with Italy, the terms of which had then been 
almost arranged, was signed. The Prussian army could 
be made ready in a fortnight. The circular was a bid 
for the support of those parts of Germany not subject 
to the Austrian Emperor. Whether their replies should 
be favourable or the reverse, Prussia would make her 
spring. Before I describe how she made it I must ask 
the reader to accompany me to Vienna, to examine 
briefly the action of the Austrian statesmen ; then, re- 
viewing the combatants on both sides, and glancing at 
their leaders, he will be ready to consider dispassionately 
the conduct of the war. 



In the preceding chapter I have told how, just before the 
meeting of the French Emperor and Bismarck at Biarritz, 
the Italian prime minister, General La Marmora, had sent 
an envoy to Vienna to ascertain whether the Emperor was 
inclined to cede Venetia to Italy on terms very advan- 
tageous to Austria. These were a large money payment 
to Austria and the assumption by Italy of a proportionate 
part of the Austrian national debt. When we consider 
the terms on which Austria had first obtained Venetia in 
1797, that the cession has been branded by historians as 
one of the most disgraceful transactions entered into by a 
great power, there would have been nothing humiliating 
to Austria if she had taken advantage of the crisis with 
which she was threatened to restore the abducted child 
to the Italian fatherland, receiving due compensation in 
money. During the period she had possessed Venetia 
she had failed to conciliate affection. The people of the 
lagoons hated their foreign master with a hatred which 
displayed itself in abstention from all social intercourse. 
It is at least questionable whether, putting on the one 

I04 The Ministers of Atistria. 

side the hatred of the people and the expense of occupa- 
tion ; the fact that her retention of the city was a festering 
sore in the heart of every Italian ; the advantages to be 
derived from holding Venetia were not quite balanced by 
the drawbacks. Had Austria complied at that time with 
the suggestion of La Marmora she would have rid herself 
of an incumbrance, have won the applause of the neutral 
powers, and have baffled two intriguing plotters, Bismarck 
and Napoleon III. 

Austria has always boasted of her politicians, but from 
the time of Kaunitz onwards those politicians have suc- 
ceeded either in subjecting her to a considerable loss of 
territory or in laying up for her, as did Metternich, heavy 
burdens for the future. When the offer of La Marmora 
reached Vienna the chief minister of the Emperor was 
Count Mensdorf-Pouilly, successor of the Count Rechberg, 
who had brought about the Schleswig-Holstein imbroglio. 
Mensdorf was the son of a soldier, and himself a soldier. He 
had fought at Magenta and Solferino, and after the Italian 
campaign had entered the diplomatic service. He was a 
favourite at court, but he had had but little experience, 
and in the events about to be recorded he figured rather 
as the mouthpiece of the inner court circles than as a min- 
ister with a policy of his own. The responsibility of the 
Austrian policy of 1866 rests therefore with the Emperor. 

The Emperor was a very honest man, but he had no 
chance in the game of politics wdth either Bismarck or 
the French Emperor. He rejected, then, the one plan 
which would have defeated those unscrupulous schemers, 
and haughtily replied to the suggestions of La Marmora 
that he would not bargain away any part of his dominions.^ 

' Sir A. Malet describes this reply as ' a fatal political error.' Mr Fyfife 
writes : ' Had this transaction been effected it would probably have changed 
the course of European history.' 

Austria, Italy, and France. 105 

But the sentimental feeling which had prompted this reply 
died away when a despatch from Paris informed Francis 
Joseph of the treaty signed between Prussia and Italy on 
the 8th of April. The Emperor resolved then at once to 
offer Venetia to Italy as the price of her neutrality in the 
war which he saw was inevitable. The offer was made 
by the French Emperor on behalf of Francis Joseph to 
Count Nigra, the Italian ambassador in Paris, and trans- 
mitted by the latter to Florence. The Italian prime 
minister would have gladly accepted it, for it procured 
for him all the results of a war without its expense, 
had he received it earlier. But he felt he could not 
with honour recede from the engagements he had 
entered into with Prussia, and he therefore declined it. 
For Austria it was another example of the fatal 'too 

The refusal of La Marmora was followed by a pro- 
posal made by the French Emperor. The time had 
arrived, in the opinion of that prince, when the treaties of 
181 5 might be absolutely set aside. He suggested there- 
fore to Bismarck, towards the latter days of May, that 
France should join Prussia with an army of 300,000 men, 
if the latter power would transfer to her the Rhenish 
provinces. He repeated offers of this nature in various 
forms during the weeks which immediately followed. 
The proposal savoured strongly of pure brigandage, for 
France had no quarrel with Austria. It indicated, also, 
poor statesmanship, for there were many other ways — the 
breaking of the Italian treaty, for instance — in which 
Napoleon could have made his co-operation necessary 
and rendered his reward secure. Bismarck, recognis- 
ing the need to humour his neighbour, to maintain 
him in an expectant mood, did not absolutely reject 
any of his proposals. But he gave him no decisive 

To6 The Eve of the War. 

answer.^ Meanwhile the English government had 
made overtures to France and Russia, and on the 
28th of May these powers proposed a congress of all 
the powers, at which to settle every point in dispute, 
and to reform the federal constitution of Germany. 
Of the three powers to whom invitations were sent, 
two, Italy and Prussia, accepted unconditionally, the 
third, Austria, conditionally. She stipulated that no 
arrangement should be discussed which should give 
increase of territory or power to any one of the States 
invited. This condition was naturally interpreted as 
a refusal. Probably the Austrian government saw 
that, with Russia, Italy, France, and Prussia arrayed 
against her in the congress, she would have no choice 
but to lay down her arms before she had fought. The 
course she actually pursued strengthens this view. Simul- 
taneously with her answer to the neutral powers she 
called upon the Diet to take the affairs of Schleswig- 
Holstein into its own hands, and convoked the Holstein 
estates. Bismarck, recognising in this act a movement 
which he could use to render war certain, declared the 
treaty of Gastein to be at an end, and ordered Prussian 
troops to enter Holstein. The Austrian general, Von 
Gablentz, protesting that he yielded only to superior 
force, immediately marched the brigade he commanded 
to Altona, thence by a masterly manoeuvre, in the face 
of superior forces, into Hanover. Furious at the breach 
of treaty committed by Prussia, Austria demanded and 
obtained from the Diet, by nine votes against six, the 

^ ' Bismarck procrastinated ; he spoke of the obstinacy of the King his 
master ; he inquired whether parts of Belgium or Switzerland would not 
better assimilate with France than a German province ; he put oft' the 
Emperor's representatives by the assurance that he could more conveniently 
arrange these matters with the Emperor when he should himself visit Paris.' 
Fyff"e, Vol. III. pages 368-9. 

The JFar 0/ I S66 de£-ins. 107 

order for the mobilisation of the federal armies. The 
Prussian representative at Frankfort, declaring that this 
act dissolved the federal union, handed in the Prussian 
plan for the reorganisation of Germany,^ and quitted 
Frankfort (June 14). The day following Bismarck 
demanded of the sovereigns of Hanover, Saxony, and 
Hesse-Cassel that they should put a stop to their mili- 
tary preparations and accept the Prussian scheme. On 
their refusal he directed Prussian troops to invade their 
territories. The war then began. Nearly the whole 
of Germany, disgusted with the high-handed action of 
Bismarck, sided with Austria. With the solitary excep- 
tion of having weakly yielded to Prussia on the question 
of the duchies, she had respected the federal rights of 
her neighbours, whilst Prussia, led by Bismarck, had dis- 
played a constantly increasing desire to trample upon all 
rights which might set a bar to his ambition.^ 

The battle to be fought for supremacy was then to be 
waged by Prussia, in Germany, against the undivided 
force and opinion of the Fatherland, for in all Germany 
Prussia could count only on the support of Mecklenburg, 
Weimar, and some pretty States in the north. Had she 
entered into the war without an external ally it is just pos- 
sible that, despite the needle-gun, the result might have 
been adverse to her. She was about to fight, she well knew, 

^ This plan contained ten articles, the most salient of which were the 
convocation of a national representative body to sit periodically, and the 
exclusion of Austria from the Confederation. Malet, page i88. 

- Amongst the propositions made by Prussia to Austria on the eve of the 
war was one transmitted by the King himself, proposing the cession to 
Prussia of Holstein for a pecuniary indemnity, and a division of Germany 
into North and South, separated by the river Main, under the respective 
presidial direction of the two great powers. Austria summarily rejected 
it on the ground that ' she declined to violate the federal law of Germany. 
Fide M.a.\et, page 185. 

loS The Feeling in Prussia. 

for supremacy in Germany or for degradation. The 
former, indeed, would be the consequence of her victory. 
But in war nothing is certain ; and defeat, in her case, 
would have meant the cession of Silesia to Austria ; of 
the parts of Saxony she had filched in 1815 to that 
power; and probably of the Elbe duchies to Hanover. 
She had done her best to prevent the possibility of 
so great a misfortune by obtaining the alliance of 
Italy. This alliance diminished by at least a third the 
military resources of her rival, for it forced Austria to 
maintain in Italy a large army capable of making head 
against the undivided force which that power could 
bring against her. 

One word as to the sentiments of the several popula- 
tions respecting the coming war. In Prussia it was un- 
popular with all classes, except with the upper classes 
and the immediate surroundings of the King. William 
himself had been persuaded by subtle reasoning on per- 
verted facts to believe in its necessity. The result of his 
own efforts for peace had confirmed this reasoning. Had 
he not offered to Austria control of Germany beyond the 
Main, and had she not refused it ? Why should she re- 
fuse the south unless she desired the north as well ? But 
the parliament, the people, the very soldiers sprung from 
the people, hated the thought of fighting with their 
brethren to uphold the policy of Bismarck. No one in 
Prussia at this period, except the King and the court, 
believed in Bismarck. The people not only mistrusted 
him : they hated him He was regarded as a flighty poli- 
tician, full of vain ambition, with neither foresight nor 
prudence. Before a hostile shot had been fired the bulk 
of the army shared these sentiments, though when in 
the presence of the enemy they behaved magnificently. 
They went unwillingly to the war. Something more than 

In the Other States of Germany. 109 

persuasion was often required to make them march 
beyond the borders.' 

In the other parts of Germany the war was popular. 
The federal States had been so bullied, trodden upon, and 
insulted by Prussia that even war was preferable to the 
continuance of subjection to her insults. Few in Germany 
had a doubt but that the war would result in Prussia's 
overthrow. Their wishes dictated their opinions. They 
had not watched the five years' reorganising of the 
Prussian army, they knew but little of the needle-gun, 
they had been told that the Austrian troops had made a 
better impression on the Danes than had those of Prussia, 
they had never heard of Von Moltke, Benedek was a 
household word. As to the co-operation of Italy, they 
gave it but scant consideration. 

Nor had they paid sufficient attention to the fact 
that there was one great drawback in the composition 
of the Austrian army. Austria had not effected that 
reconciliation with Hungary which was subsequently 
found to be essential to the well-being of the two 
countries. The Hungarian leaders, tired of struggling 
against the prip.ciple of autonomy, saw no chance of 
salvation from the victory of Austria. Hence the Hun- 
garian soldiers were less well affected to the cause than 
were the other troops of her empire. If Austria had 
had more time to prepare, or if her military administra- 
tion had been conducted on the lines of common sense 

' A relative of my own who happened to be at Colofjne at the lime re- 
lated to me an incident he had witnessed at that city. The men of a Landwehr 
regiment ordered to the front had declined to move unless their wives should 
go with them. When threats and persuasions were found useless the authori- 
ties gave way, on the condition that the wives should be stowed in separate 
carriages. This was done. The soldiers took their places in the front part 
of the train, the wives in the rear compartments. Just one second before the 
whistle sounded the couplings of the rear compartments were unloosed and 
the soldiers went on alone. 

no Sympathy of Germany with Austria. 

this evil might have been greatly lessened by the trans- 
ferring of more Hungarian regiments to the army of Italy. 
But it would seem that no effort was made in this 

The feeling of Germany regarding the combatants 
was well illustrated when the troops of the two nations 
which formed the garrison of Frankfort quitted that 

When the Austrian regiment marched out, the entire 
population poured into the streets, and accompanied the 
men to the railway station. ' Flowers were showered 
on them by fair hands from the windows, cigars and 
refreshments of all kinds thrust into the railway carriages, 
the notabilities of society and of commerce joined wishes 
of speedy and happy return with their farewell benisons.'^ 
When the Prussians quitted the town there was not 
a voice to cry, ' God bless them ' ; no sympathising 
crowd accompanied them. ' Egypt was glad at their 

' On the contrary, I am personally cognisant of an instance in which the 
Vienna war office lost the services of a very valuable officer because it per- 
sisted in taking a step prompted by a very opposite spirit. A Prussian friend 
of mine had entered the Austrian cavalry, had served with distinction during 
the many disturbances which took place in Hungary in the years 1860-64, ^"d 
had become a captain. His regiment had received orders for Italy, when, on 
the eye of the war, he was transferred from it to a cavalry regiment told off to 
"take part in the war against Prussia. He hurried to the war office, explained 
that he was a Prussian born, and could not fight against his own countrymen, 
although ready and willing to fight against the Italians, and begged to be re- 
transferred to a regiment serving in Italy. But the war minister was inexor- 
able ; he seemed to take a petty delight in wounding this officer's feelings 
because he was a Prussian, and rudely refused his request. The officer, who, 
I believe, is still living, resigned his commission rather than fight against his 
own countrymen. 

- Malet, page 204. The author adds that the sympathy for the Austrians 
was the more significant inasmuch as the regiment was a Bohemian regiment, 
scarcely a man in which spoke German. The sympathy was emphatically for 

The Prussian Army. 1 1 1 

One word regarding the Prussian army. The reorgan- 
isation designed by Von Roon and approved by the King 
had been persistently carried on despite the equally per- 
sistent opposition of the parliament. In vain had the 
King, when the parliament of 1865 opened in January, 
expressed the hope that in the presence of the threatening 
aspect of affairs the differences between the two great 
powers would be smoothed. The Lower House rejected 
the reorganisation bill and the war budget, refused to 
pass the bill for the expenses of the war with Denmark, 
and declared the spending of money not voted by parlia- 
ment to be unconstitutional. It persisted in the same 
spirit when it was reopened in January 1866. The King 
dismissed it after a sitting of only eight days, and con- 
tinued to levy taxes as he had levied them in the preceding 
years. He had in the treasury the savings of preced- 
ing years, amounting to 20,000,000 thalers. The sale 
of the State railway from Cologne to Minden brought 
him a considerable sum, whilst he enforced the budget 
sanctioned by the Upper House and himself notwith- 
standing that the Lower House had rejected it. Indepen- 
dent thus of his parliament, independent likewise of the 
wishes of his people, who poured in petitions ^ begging for 
the continuance of peace, he pursued the policy dictated 
by Bismarck, determined to solve, by blood and iron, the 
question of Prussia's position in Germany. Meanwhile 
Von Roon had succeeded in bringing the army to a very 
high state of efficiency. It numbered 326,600 men, well 
drilled, well fed, the infantry armed with the new weapon 
of precision, the cavalry well mounted, the artillery admir- 

' It is significant that whilst the petitions from every other part of the 
King's dominions pleaded strongly for peace, the city of Ereslau, capital of 
the province which Frederic 11. had filched from Austria, adhered resolutely 
to the policy of Bismarck. 

1 1 2 Moltke. 

ably appointed. The order to mobilise was given at in- 
tervals between the 3d and 12th of May. In fourteen 
days from the latter date the entire army awaited only 
the order to advance. 

It remains now to introduce to the reader the dis- 
tinguished man, the last mentioned of the triad to whom 
Prussia owes the position she now occupies in the world. 
If Von Roon organised victory, if Bismarck by his 
aggressive policy brought the question of Prussia's future 
to the point when blood and iron alone could solve it, 
it was Hellmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke who when 
the moment of action arrived laid down with an accuracy 
not to be surpassed the decisive points which were to be 
struck. Von Moltke was a strategist of the highest 
order. Born on the 26th of October 1800 at Parchim, 
in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, he was educated for the most 
part at Copenhagen, and entered the infantry of the 
Prussian army as second lieutenant on the 12th of March 
1822. From October 1823 to the same month in 1826 
he attended the classes at the public military school 
(Allgemeine Kriegsschule) in Berlin, and gained there 
more than ordinary distinction. From 1828 to 1831 he 
was engaged in land surveying. On the 30th of March 
1832 he was appointed to the general staff; was promoted 
to first lieutenant in it in 1833, and to captain in 1835. 
The same year he undertook a journey to Constantinople, 
and was requested by the Seraskier, Muhammad Chosref 
Pacha, to remain there some time in the interests of 
Turkey. Maintaining a perfectly independent position, 
he took a very leading part in the reorganisation of the 
Turkish army, accompanied Sultan Mahmud II. in a 
journey through Bulgaria, and carried out the mandates 
he received for the fortifying of Rustchuk, Silistria, Varna, 
Schumla, and a little later of the Dardanelles. About 

His Earlier Career. 113 

this time the Turkish government obtained from Berlin 
the prolongation of Moltke's leave for three years, and 
the sending to him thence of three officers to aid in the 
task he had undertaken. In 1838 Moltke proceeded to 
the army in Asia Minor, and utilised the assistance sent 
to him in making military roads. He took part also 
in the campaign against the Kurds, and against the 
Egyptians in Syria. On the death of Sultan Mahmud 
(ist of July 1839) Moltke returned to Prussia, was 
nominated to the general staff of the 4th army corps 
(April 1840), was promoted to be major in 1842, became 
permanently a member of the general staff in October 
1845, and accompanied Prince Henry of Prussia to Rome 
in the quality of adjutant the same year. During his 
stay in Rome Moltke made a topographical survey 
of the country surrounding the city. On the death of 
Prince Henry he returned home, and was sent to the 
general staff of the 8th army corps (December 1846). 
In May 1848 he was nominated divisional chief in the 
principal general staff; on the 2 2d of August of the same 
year chief of the general staff of the 4th army corps. 
Whilst holding this position he was promoted, September 
26, 1850, to be lieutenant-colonel, in December 1851 to 
be colonel. On the ist of September 1855 he was ap- 
pointed first adjutant to the Crown Prince (afterwards 
the Emperor Frederic) with the rank of major-general. 
He accompanied this prince in his journeys to London, 
Petersburg, Moscow, and Paris. Returning, he was 
nominated to act, October 29, 1857, as chief of the general 
staff of the army, and in September of the year following 
was confirmed in that post. In May 1859 he became 

In the Danish war of 1864 Moltke took part as chief 
of the general staff under the command-in-chief of Prince 


114 Mo like. 

Frederic Charles. On the conclusion of the war he 
reassumed his post as chief of the general staff of the 
army. Early in the spring of 1866 he took part in the 
consultations held at Berlin as to the possibilities of 
success in a war against Austria. To the council of 
superior officers presided over by the King he submitted 
plans of operations which he contended must lead to 
success if carried out with energy and vigour. On the 
8th of June he was nominated general of infantry, and 
attached to the headquarters of the King as the real 
director of the movements of the army. 

Such, told baldly, was the previous career of the man 
who was to astonish Europe by his strategic insight — 
to inspire a confidence such as soldiers can feel only in 
men of combined genius and action — such as inspired 
the soldiers of Hannibal, of Alexander, of Caesar, of 
Cromwell, of Turenne, of Clive, of Eugene, of Marlborough, 
of Villars, of Frederic, of Loudon, above all, of Napoleon. 
I do not assert that history will place Moltke on the level 
of the greatest of these, for it was his fortune never to 
meet an opponent who soared above mediocrity. But 
as a strategist, as a master of the art of war, as a general 
whose combinations were bold yet prudent, who could 
detect the weak point of his enemy, who could inspire 
officers and men with the most absolute confidence 
in his leading, he may claim admittance to the Wal- 
halla in which rest the shades of the world's most famous 
warriors. He was a very modest man, kept himself always 
in the background, was jealous for the acknowledgment of 
the merits of others rather than of his own. His superiority 
therefore excited no feeling of envy or of hostility. He 
was singularly devoid of ambition. In common with the 
first Duke of Wellington, he claimed duty as his polar star. 

A few words, and only a few, must be said of the 

Prince Frederic Charles. 1 1 5 

generals commanding the Prussian army corps when the 
war broke out. They were three: Prince Frederic Charles, 
the Crown Prince of Prussia, General Herwarth von 

Prince Frederic Charles, only son of Prince Charles, 
younger brother of the actual King of Prussia, was born 
at Berlin on the 20th of March 1828, and from his days 
of boyhood was trained for the army. Whilst yet in his 
teens he was placeJ under the care of Major von Roon, 
later minister of war, who accompanied him to the Uni- 
versity of Bonn (1846-8). The Prince took part in the 
Danish war of 1848, having the rank of captain, and thus 
early displayed the qualities of an excellent cavalry 
officer. He served on the staff of his uncle in 1849, 
when the latter was engaged in suppressing the insurrec- 
tionists of Baden, distinguished himself at the combat of 
Wiesenthal (June 20), in which he was twice severely 
wounded. On his recovery he devoted himself to military 
studies. A soldier from the bottom of his heart, he read 
and re-read the histories of the campaigns of Frederic II. 
and of Napoleon. He became a perfect soldier in theor}-, 
and wrote in i860, for private circulation, a pamphlet 
in which he severely criticised the tactics displayed by 
the French Emperor in the Italian war of 1859, and 
compared, advantageously to the former, the German 
and French armies. Made general of cavalry in 1861, 
he commanded the right wing of the Prussian army corps 
which invaded the duchies in 1864. In this war he dis- 
played many of the qualities of a commander, being quick 
in his decisions, rapid in his movements, and thorough 
in his plans. On the conclusion of peace he returned to 
his studies. He had gained a considerable reputation in 
Prussia, and was regarded by many officers as the coming 
man. His popularity with his men was great. 

1 1 6 TJic Crown Prince. 

The second commander mentioned, Frederic, Crown 
Prince of Prussia, the only son of the reigning king, was 
three years younger than his cousin, having been born 
the 1 8th of October 1831. This prince had received a 
military education, but, as heir to the throne, greater 
care had been taken to fit him for the duties which would 
devolve upon him as chief of the State. He possessed a 
noble character, being frank, open, resolute, just in his 
views, and courteous in his manners. No one knew better 
than he how to disarm opposition or to conciliate public 
opinion. He had had but little experience in the field, 
having served only, and not prominently, in the Danish 
war of 1864. To place him at the head of an important 
army, with a distinct mission of its own, was therefore an 
experiment. It will be seen, however, that at the most 
important crisis of the campaign, the results of which 
depended upon his action, he displayed a capacity and 
judgment which more than justified his selection. 

The third officer, Herwarth von Bittenfeld, who was an 
older man than his comrades, having been born in 1796, 
had entered the army in 181 1, and taken part in the cam- 
paigns of 181 3-14. After the peace of 18 15 he remained 
for twenty years with his regiment, serving five years as 
adjutant, and becoming captain in 182 1. He became 
major in 1839, colonel in 1848, and in that rank was 
placed in command of an infantry brigade. Soon after 
the 'surrender of Olmiitz ' he commanded the Prussian 
troops at Frankfort, became a major-general in March 
1852, commander of the 7th division in August 1856, 
and was promoted to lieutenant - general two months 
later. He held various important commands till the 
Danish war broke out in 1864. He then received 
command of the ist mobilised army corps, and at the 
head of this gained a great reputation by the manner 

Von Bitten/eld — Benedek. 1 1 7 

in which he captured the island of Alsen. But it was 
his reputation as an unsurpassed handler of masses, 
his character as a daring, cool, capable leader which 
procured for him in the seventieth year of his age the 
position of leader of one of the three aggressive armies 
of Prussia. 

Of the army put into the field by Austria and her 
allies I shall write more at length when the time shall 
arrive to recount their exploits. But it is necessary to 
say a few words here of the commander of that army 
in Germany — Ludwig von Benedek. 

Benedek was a Hungarian, having been born at 
Oedenburg in July 1804. He was, however, educated 
in the military academy at Wiener-Neustadt, issuing 
from it in 1822 with a lieutenant's commission. He be- 
came major in 1840, lieutenant-colonel in 1843, colonel 
in 1846. In that rank he served in the suppression of 
the insurrection in Galicia, and gave numeious proofs 
of courage and conduct. He fought in the Italian war 
of 1848-9, and was promoted to major-general in the 
Hungarian war of 1849, receiving therein many wounds. 
After the submission of Hungary Benedek was appointed 
chief of the general staff to Marshal Radetzky, became 
field - marshal - lieutenant in 1853, and during the 
Crimean war was placed in command of the army of 
observation located in Galicia. In the Franco-Italian 
war of 1859 he took an active part. At Solferino 
he commanded the right wing of the Austrian 
army, the only part of that army which was not 
beaten, for he completely repulsed the Italian attack. 
Promoted in November 1859 to be Feldzeugmeister 
(Inspector-General of Ordnance), he became, two months 
later, quartermaster - general of the whole army, and 
in the April following was nominated to be civil 

1 1 

S Benedek. 

and military governor of Hungary. From this post he 
was moved in October to take the command-in-chief 
of the Austrian army in Italy, and of its reserves in the 
Alpine country north of Verona. Beloved by the troops, 
and regarded as the most capable general in the army, 
he was moved thence when, in May 1866, war with 
Prussia was seen to be imminent, to take command of the 
Austrian forces in Germany, the Archduke Albert re- 
lieving him in Italy. Regarding his talents as a com- 
mander, no opinion could be formed by those qualified to 
form one. He had certainly gained the confidence of 
his men, but he had never commanded in chief. Victory 
in war is to the general who makes the fewest mistakes. 
The reader will see that in the operations of the hostile 
armies neither general-in-chief was free from the com- 
mission of error ; but the error of Benedek was far greater 
than the error of Moltke, and, committed at a critical 
period, was fatal. 

Having presented to the reader the leading generals 
on both sides, I propose to take them to the battle- 
fields on which were to be decided the claims for su- 
premacy in Germany of Austria and Prussia. 



On the 13th and 15th of June the Prussian government 
notified to the several generals commanding corps and 
divisions to be ready to push forward at the first intima- 
tion sent by wire. On the 15th the same government 
declared war against Hanover, electoral Hesse, and 
Saxony; on the i8th^ against the other members of the 
alliance. At the first of these dates the Prussian army 
was thus disposed. The first army, commanded by 
Prince Frederic Charles, consisting of the 2d, 3d, and 4th 
army corps, and numbering 93,000 men, occupied the 
Saxon frontier as far as Gorlitz. The second, led by the 
Crown Prince, composed of the 1st, 5th, and 6th corps, 
and the Guards, numbering in all 115,000 men, was con- 
centrated at Neisse in Silesia. The third army, called 
the army of the Elbe, commanded by Herwarth von 
Bittenfeld, composed of one division of the 7th corps 
and of the 8th corps, numbering 46,000 men, and 
having a Landwehr reserve of 24,300, which, however, 
was not engaged, stood on the left bank of the Elbe 
facing Saxony. The three armies, counting the reserve, 
numbered 278,000 men. But they constituted only a 

' Austria was comprehended in this declaration ; but the actual date on 
which the document declaring war was handed in at the Austrian advanced 
posts was the 21st. 

1 20 The Austrian Ain}iy. 

part of the Prussian forces available for immediate 
action. At Minden was the 13th division, 14,300 strong, 
under General von Falkenstein ; at Hamburg the corps 
of Manteuffel, 14,100 strong ; at Wetzlar, ready to dash 
into electoral Hesse, Beyer's division, 19,600 strong.^ 
Altogether the Prussian troops, ready for immediate 
action, counted 326,600 men. 

If the forces of the enemy somewhat exceeded these 
in number they were neither so ready for immediate 
action, so united, so well armed, nor so dominated by 
one imperious will. It was the misfortune of Austria 
that she was compelled to divide her forces ; that whilst 
maintaining one army, called the army of the north, 
under Benedek, in Germany, she was compelled, by the 
hostile action of Italy, to keep a second army, called the 
army of the south, in or about the Italian quadrilateral. 
To that army, under Archduke Albert, I shall refer later 
on. The northern army was composed of seven corps, 
the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 6th, 8th, and loth, each consisting of 
four brigades ; of an artillery reserve of six batteries, 
of two light and three heavy reserve cavalry divisions. 
Its total strength was 247,000 men ; but that strength 
was raised to 271,000 by the co-operation with it of a 
corps of Saxon troops, 24,000 strong. Besides these, the 
garrisons of Cracow, of Olmiitz, of Theresienstadt, of 
Josephstadt, and of Koniggratz,^ absorbed 54,000 men. 
Austria, moreover, had contributed 7000 men to the 
Bund army. 

The Bund army was formed of 52,000 troops contri- 
buted by Bavaria; of 16,250 by Wiirtemberg ; of 10,850 
by Baden ; of 9400 by Hesse (Hesse- Darmstadt) ; of 

' These three corps were afterwards united to form the army of the Main. 
- It is scarcely necessary to state that Olmiitz is in Moravia ; the three 
places last named in Bohemia. 

The Position of Hanove7\ 1 2 1 

5400 by Nassau; of 18,400 by Hanover; of 7000 by 
electoral Hesse (Hesse-Cassel). But these corps were 
neither ready nor united when Prussia declared war. 

Although Prussia despatched her cartel to Austria 
only on the 21st of June she had, as I have said, notified 
to her generals on the 15th, the very moment she had 
understood that neither Saxony,^ Hanover, nor electoral 
Hesse would make common cause with her, to move on 
those States at a moment's notice. It was a repetition of 
the policy of Frederic H. in 1756, viz., to dash upon an 
assured enemy before his resources should be complete. 

Hanover, long coveted by Prussia, was one of the first 
to feel the blow. It would have been impossible for 
Hanover to arm at any time previously without provok- 
ing an attack from her more powerful neighbour. Her 
troops, therefore, were utterly unprepared for war. They 
were about to assemble for their peaceful summer 
manoeuvres. But learning on the 15th the hostile dis- 
positions of Prussia, and that orders to the Prussian army 
to march had been given, the King of Hanover sum- 
moned his whole army to assemble at Gottingen with 
the utmost haste. His soldiers obeyed his instructions 
with alacrity, and on the iSth the whole army, with the 
exception of three companies of artillery left at Stade, 
and some small detachments, joined the King and the 
Crown Prince at the given rendezvous. 

Nothing was ready for them. The force was deficient 
in camp equipage, in means of transport, and in ammuni- 
tion. It counted 15,000 infantry, 2000 of whom were 
recruits of only two months; 2200 cavalry, and forty-two"^ 

' Hanover was not given a chance of neutrality. She was told she must 
join forces against Austria or accept war. Malet, page 211 and note. 

" Vide Malet's Overthrow of the Geri/iaiiic Confederation in 1866, pages 

122 Prussia potirs Her Troops into Hanover. 

field-pieces. The ammunition train consisted of forty 
waggons, and there was a reserve of ten guns. The 
King, his generals, and his subjects generally, worked 
incessantly to make good the deficiencies, but time was 
short, the means of the country were inadequate, and 
when the enemy approached, the Hanoverians were but 
ill-supplied with the means of moving. The feeling, 
however, of the troops was excellent. Recognising that 
they were about to be sacrificed to the long pent-up greed 
of their neighbour, they threw all their energies into the 
cause which was at once their King's and their own. 

Whilst they were thus working the enemy were carry- 
ing all before them. On the 13th the Prussian general 
to whom had been committed the task of occupying 
Hanover, General Vogel von Falkenstein, a veteran in his 
sixty-ninth }ear, commanding the 13th division, received 
orders to hold himself in readiness to move at a moment's 
notice by wire. Crossing the Elbe on the 15th, he sent 
Manteuffel to seize Harburg that night ; thence pushing 
forward detachments, he occupied on the i6th, Luneburg 
and Brunshausen. On the 17th Manteuffel forced the 
fortress of Stade to surrender. Whilst Emden and the 
strand batteries on the Ems and the west were attacked by 
and surrendered to the Prussian maritime force during the 
four days, from the 19th to the 22d, another division of the 
Minden army, led by Von Goeben, himself a Hanoverian, 
marched straight on the town of Hanover, and entered it 
the evening of the 17th. A portion of Manteuffel's 
division joined him there the night of the 19th, whilst the 
other brigade entered Celle on the 20th. 

It was on that day that the Hanoverian army at 
Gottingen had been brought into a condition in which it 
might attempt to move. Many were the consultations 
held as to the direction it should take. As always 

Retreat of the Hanoverians. 123 

happens under such circumstances, the diversity of opinion 
was great. The most obvious course seemed to march in 
the direction by which an early junction could be effected 
with the Bavarian corps then gathering in the Main. But 
it was not until the evening of the 20th that the decision 
was arrived at to march on Eisenach in Saxe-Weimar, 
thence to traverse Thuringia to a point where a union 
with the Bavarian force under Prince Charles would be 

The King had entrusted the command of his little 
force to General von Arentschildt. It consisted of four 
brigades : those of Knesebeck, De Vaux, Biilow, and 
Bothmer, besides reserves, altogether about 18,000 men. 
It set out on the morning of the 21st. On the evening of 
that day the advanced guard (Bulow's brigade) was at 
Helmsdorf, the rearguard at Geismar. It seemed possible 
that by pushing earnestly forward the little force might 
carry out the intentions of its leaders, for between it and 
its destination there was but one Prussian brigade, that of 
Fliess, about 9000 strong, posted at Gotha. The next day, 
the 22d, the advanced guard reached Heroldshausen ; 
but reports coming in that the Prussians were in force in 
the vicinity, Arentschlidt decided to change slightly the 
plan of advance, and to move the next day on Langen- 
salza instead of on Eisenach. Accordingly on the 23d 
the headquarters of the army were established at Langen- 
salza, the advanced posts being pushed on to Henings- 
leben and Merxleben, the rear posts at Mulhausen. No 
Prussians had been seen, and had the force made a serious 
effort the following day to push across Thuringia it is 
almost certain it would have succeeded, for its numbers 
were to the enemy fronting it at Gotha in the proportion 
of two to one. It was their one chance, but Prussian 
cunning induced them to neoilect it. 

124 The Effect of Prussian Intrigue. 

For whilst the Hanoverians were marching to Lang- 
ensalza the Prussians were gathering on the path and 
round them. General Goeben had reached Gottingen on 
the 22d ; Manteuffel's division was but one march behind 
him ; Von Falkenstein entered the same town on the 23d. 
Here, however, the Prussian commanders were all at fault. 
Whilst Wrangel's brigade made a vain reconnaissance 
in the direction of Heiligenstadt, General Beyer had 
been detached with his force to guard the passage of 
the Werra, where no enemy attempted to pass. Two 
battalions of the Guards had been hurriedly sent from 
Berlin to occupy Eisenach, from which place the Prussian 
Landwehr, alarmed by the reports of the Hanoverian 
advance, had fallen back on Gotha — but they arrived 
there only on the night of the 23d. I have already 
stated that there were 9000 Prussians at Gotha. In war 
nothing is absolutely certain ; but, mathematically, it is 
more than probable that if the 18,000 men at Langen- 
salza on the 23d had pushed on, either by Eisenach or 
by Gotha, on the 24th they would have escaped the 
Prussian toils. 

But they did not push on. The Prussians had as- 
certained the position of their enemies, and dreading lest 
they should escape, they employed the stale but telling 
device of propositions for terms to detain them. Deceived 
by the false statement that the passes in front of them were 
strongly guarded, and by the idea, stated with an air of 
conviction, that by negotiations they could obtain terms 
which would preserve to Hanover its army, the King and 
his general counter-ordered the directions to advance 
on Eisenach. Then followed the result which those 
who knew Prussia and her chief minister might have 
expected. Conditions were offered from Berlin which 
could not be accepted. The march on Eisenach was 

The Hanoverians a7'e entrapped. 1 25 

delayed till the afternoon. By that time the garrison 
there had been effectually reinforced ; and when the 
Hanoverian army appeared before the place in the 
evening they found it strongly occupied. They therefore 
halted where they were, between Langensalza and Eisen- 
ach, the headquarters at Gross-Behringen. For reasons 
not to be satisfactorily explained they halted there the 
next day, the King being still deceived by negotiations 
intended only to make his surrender certain. 

The Prussians employed their time far more practically 
To make the doom of their foes certain they marched to 
positions encircling them with all their immediately avail- 
able forces. On the evening of the 25th the position of the 
Prussian arm}' was as follows : Fliess was at Gotha with 
his 9000 men ; Von Goeben at Eisenach with the same 
number ; Von Glumer was at Kreuzburg and Treffurt 
with 6000; Wrangel was at Cassel with 12,000. Man- 
teuffel's division occupied the country about Gottingen 
and Minden. The headquarters were at Eisenach, at 
which place Von Falkenstein arrived on the 25th to take 
supreme command. 

It was on the evening of the same day only that the 
King of Hanover and his general came to the conviction 
that they had been entrapped. Nothing remained then 
but to fight. Accordingly Arcntschildt concentrated his 
force between Gross and Oster-Behringcn, with Knesc- 
beck's brigade at Henningsleben to protect a retrograde 
movement on Langensalza in case of a repulse. It is 
necessary to call particular attention to the disposition of 
Knesebeck's brigade, for it shows that the Hanoverian 
leaders had not yet arrived at the true bearings of 
the situation. No retreat would save them. The one 
course open to them was to mass their forces and 
endeavour to cut their way through the foe in front 

126 Position of the Hanoverian Army. 

of them. Defensive operations could only mean ultimate 

This should have been made clear to them by the 
fact that the Prussians, after much vapouring, made no 
attack that day. They were waiting for the further re- 
inforcements which were approaching. During this the 
King prepared for the battle of the morrow, hoping that 
the messengers he had despatched to Prince Charles of 
Bavaria and Prince Alexander of Hesse on the 19th and 
2 1st, to explain his situation and to ask assistance, might 
bring him aid.^ 

The rumour of a Bavarian advance had reached the 
Prussian camp, and it disposed the general commanding 
to make his attack at once. The Hanoverians, mean- 
while, had taken a position on the left bank of the river 
Unstrutt, their forces being disposed in the following 
manner : Blilow's brigade, with the reserve artillery, on 
the right ; De Vaux's brigade in the centre at Merxleben, 
connected with Blilow by the village of Thamsbriick, 
occupied by a detachment, and with the left by Hennings- 
leben, occupied by the Cambridge dragoons. Bothmer's 
brigade held the left towards Nagelstadt, with one 
battalion at the bridge over the Unstrutt, and one 
squadron and a half guarding the flank towards Tenn- 
stedt and Bruckstedt. Knesebeck's brigade formed the 
reserve. The headquarters were at Merxleben, the King 
was at Thamsbriick. The Unstrutt covered the whole 
front of the position. It had steep banks, was not 
easily fordable, and was impassable for cavalry save by 
bridges. The difficulty of approach was greatly increased 
by the fact that the road to the south-west, beyond the 

^ In point of fact they brought none. Neither prince was ready for 
offensive operations. The Bavarian prince, however, tendered his advice 
that the Hanoverians should cut their way through. 

Battle of Langensalza. 127 

river, ran for about eighty yards between a bank from 
ten to fourteen feet high and the Salza brook. The key 
of the position was Merxleben and the eminence of 
Kirchberg, immediately to the south of it.^ 

In obedience to orders he had received, General Fliess 
marched, at half-past seven on the morning of the 27th, 
with his force of nearly 9000 men, from Warza upon 
Langensalza. His advanced guard reached the entrance 
of that town at eleven, and drove before it the small 
Hanoverian party which had occupied it. The latter, 
however, encountered in its retreat the brigade of 
Knesebeck which had been despatched to its support. 
Knesebeck at once occupied a strongly defensive position, 
and held the Prussians at bay until, at half-past eleven, 
all the Hanoverians who had been posted on the right 
bank of the Unstrutt had traversed the defile leading to 
Merxleben. The Prussians then seized a position on 
a hill known as the Judenhiigel, but the Hanoverian guns 
on the more commanding position of the Kirchberg 
opened on them, and inflicted so much loss that they 
maintained themselves only by being reinforced. 

By this time the entire force of Fliess had come up. 
That general then made a resolute attack on the 
Hanoverian centre at Merxleben. The attack was 
repulsed, whereupon Bothmer on the left and Blilow 
on the right crossed the Unstrutt to attack the Prussian 
flanks, De Vaux's brigade supporting the attack, whilst 
the reserves were brought up nearer to the centre. 
Owing mainly to the great difficulties of the ground, 
Bothmer's attack failed, but Blilow, who crossed the 

' For the graphic description of the position, and for many interesting 
details connected with story of the Langensalza episode, so advantageous to 
Prussia and so damaging to her enemies, I am indebted to Sir Alexander 
Malet's book, already repeatedly quoted. 

,128 , The Prussians^ retreat. 

river about one o'clock, drove back the Prussians and 
took a position between Unstrutt and the Salza. There- 
he was joined half an hour later by the first and second 
battalions of the Guard. He then advanced, stormed 
a strong position known as Kallenberg's mill, and push- 
ing on, drove the Prussians from the Judenhiigel. Other 
positions were stormed, and about two o'clock the 
Prussians were driven out of Langensalza. 

But though Fliess's attack had failed he had accom- 
plished one main purpose of his mission. ' He had secured 
the detention of the Hanoverians for another day. Strong 
reinforcements, he knew, were marching up, and could the 
enemy be induced to stay where they were till the follow- 
ing morning it would be impossible for them to escape 
the 40,000 men who would then surround them. Not 
desirous, however, to expose his own troops to further loss, 
Fliess began a retreat about half-past three, leaving to the 
Hanoverians all the honours of the day. The latter 
pursued the Prussians for about an hour. Their own loss 
in killed and wounded was greater than that of the 
Prussians, but they took 907 prisoners, of whom ten 
were officers. The course of events not only released 
these the next day, but restored also the two guns and 
2000 stand of small-arms which the Hanoverians had 

It was about half-past four when the pursuit ceased. 
The question then arose as to what course should be 
pursued ; whether to remain on the ground or to en- 
deavour to march all night into Thuringia. A Prussian 
writer, generally very accurate,^ has thus summed up the 
situation : ' Although the Hanoverians had undoubtedly 
won a victory which had at last made it possible for them 
to escape to the south and effect a junction with the 

1 Brockhaus's Conversations-I.cxikon, 1 2th edition. Vol. IX. page 525. 

The Hanoverians capittdate. 129 

Bavarians, they did not profit by it.' Whether they 
could have escaped may be doubtful. According to 
the testimony of the superior officers the men were 
exhausted, the dead remained unburied, they possessed 
ammunition only for one more serious combat, the supply 
of food in sufficient quantities was impossible, the Prussians 
were closing in from several directions, the further ex- 
penditure of blood could lead, in their opinion, to no good 
result. For these reasons the King and his officers re- 
solved to remain w^here they were, and to treat the day 
following for a capitulation. The terms were drawn up 
on the 28th by the Prussian chief commander at Eisenach, 
General von Falkenstein, and after having been submitted 
to and revised by the King of Prussia, were agreed to by 
the Hanoverian commander-in-chief. They were to the 
following purport: (i) that the King of Hanover, the 
Crown Prince, and such entourage as they might select, 
should fix their residence wherever they pleased except 
in Hanover ; (2) that the officers and civilians of the 
Hanoverian army should engage not to serve against 
Prussia; that they should keep their arms and receive 
their pay, and stand in the same relations towards the 
Prussian administration of Hanover as they had done 
towards the independent government of that kingdom ; 
(3) that the rank and file should give up their arms 
and return to their homes, engaging not to serve against 
Prussia ; (4) that arms, horses, and war materials should 
be handed over to Prussia. 

There was no mistaking these conditions. The order 
had gone forth that the House of Guelph should cease to 
reign in Germany. Surely it would have been better had 
the representative of that ancient House and his army 
attempted a retreat across Thuringia, even at the risk 
of encountering superior numbers and being slaughtered 


130 Reflections on the Action of Hanover. 

to a man. Better that than to await in camp the tender 
mercies of a Bismarck-inspired King. It was a case 
of Might against Right. The King of Hanover had been 
told that he must either espouse a cause against which his 
conscience and the conscience of his people revolted, or be 
attacked. He was in the position of a private man who 
is told that he must either join in a robbery or be himself 
despoiled. The King of Hanover chose the right, and 
suffered accordingly. 

I have dwelt at some length on the actions which led 
to the surrender of Hanover because it was one of the 
most important events of the war. It was the first great 
blow in that war, and it tended enormously to the advant- 
age of Prussia. War with Austria had only been formally 
declared on the 21st of June, and a week later Prussia had 
succeeded not only in neutralising one of her enemies but 
in securing for herself the advantages accruing from the 
command of the resources of a territory containing about 
2300 square miles and nearly 4,000,000 inhabitants. It 
was a blow which struck terror into the minds of her 
weaker foes. And although the conquest could not be 
attributed to the superior valour of the Prussian soldiers — 
for they had been beaten in fair fight — it gave evidence 
that the director-in-chief of the Prussian armies thoroughly 
understood the time-honoured principle that the way to 
win a battle is to concentrate the greatest number of men 
on the decisive point. 

Not less expeditiously did Prussia act towards elec- 
toral Hesse. General Beyer, stationed with 19,000 men 
at Weitzlar, broke up from that place on the i6th, and 
before the troops of the electorate could be organised 
for action occupied Cassel (June 19). The Elector, sur- 
prised, had but time to direct his troops to march on 
Hainau and Fulda. This they attempted to do, and 

Enormous Gain to Prussia. 


most of them succeeded eventually in joining their 
several corps at Frankfort and Mayence. But the un- 
fortunate Elector, who persisted in remaining at his 
palace at Wilmelmshohe, was taken prisoner by the 
Prussians, underwent many annoyances at their hands, 
and was eventually transferred under arrest to Bremen 
by the express order of the Prussian King. The elec- 
torate, left defenceless, was annexed by Prussia. 

We have thus seen how two limbs of the German 
Confederation were lopped off before the war was a fort- 
night old. I: remains now to examine the action of the 
other members, and of Prussia towards them. 



The Prussian leaders thoroughly understood the advant- 
age of promptitude in war. Ready themselves, and 
opposed to an enemy whose preparations were not yet 
completed, but who occupied a large extent of territory, 
some of which overlapped that of Prussia, it was a matter 
of life and death to strike a blow which should paralyse 
before the several opponents could combine to utilise the 
natural advantages open to them. It was, for instance, 
quite possible — and I mention it here because the points 
had been considered by the Prussian generals — that had 
Prussia delayed her forward movements, a capable Austrian 
commander — and Benedek had that character — might, by 
uniting with a portion of the Bund army, have dashed in 
between East and West Prussia, thus preventing combined 
action between the two parts, whilst a Bavarian army, dash- 
ing into Hanover and Hesse, and picking up the troops 
of those allies, might make possible a march upon Berlin. 

How Prussia prevented the possibility of such action 
by paralysing both Hanover and Hesse has been already 

In point of fact there was no such thing as ' dash ' on 
the part of the allies. They had not an irresponsible 
general, nor were their preparations for war nearly com- 

A ction of the A Hies. 1 3 3 

pleted. The prompt success of the divisions of Manteufifel, 
Von Falkenstein, and Beyer, in Hanover and Hesse, had 
proved this to the hilt. There remained, then, to Prussia 
the obligation to pursue a similar course towards Austria, 
Bavaria, Saxony, and their lesser allies, with the convic- 
tion that boldness was prudence, and that to succeed as 
they had succeeded in Hanover they must give no respite 
to the enemy. How rigorously they acted on this prin- 
ciple I shall now show. 

Before war had been declared, but when it was still 
imminent, the representatives of Bavaria, Saxony, VViir- 
temberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Nassau had met 
at Munich, and had fixed the contingents which should 
be furnished severally by those powers. It was not, how- 
ever, till the 14th of June that the Diet called those troops 
into activity. It was then further arranged that whilst 
the contingents from the four last named of the allies, and 
the contingents to be furnished by Austria and Saxony, 
should be sent to Frankfort, to be placed there under 
the command of Prince Alexander of Hesse, an officer 
who had served wMth distinction in the Austrian army, 
the command of the Bavarian forces, which were to 
assemble on the Upper Main, should be given to Prince 
Charles of Bavaria, a veteran in his seventy-first year, 
who had seen no service since 181 5, when he was a mere 
boy. It was decided further that the troops assembling 
at Frankfort under Alexander of Hesse should be subject 
to the command- in-chief of Prince Charles. 

By the i8th and 19th the two armies were ready for 
movement. It had been quite possible for its commander 
to detach a sufficient body of troops to save the Hano- 
verian army. But, in reply to the earnest request of the 
blind sovereign of that State, Prince Charles had sent 
only advice. Now that Hanover had fallen, the turn fir 

134 Movements of the Przissian Armies. 

action of the Bavarian prince had arriv^ed, for the Prussian 
army of the Main, formed of the three divisions which 
had acted in Hanover and in Hesse-Cassel, and led by- 
Generals von Goeben, Beyer, and Fliess, were on his 
track, eager to bring him to battle. 

Before I notice the action of these generals and their 
opponents it is necessary to follow the movements of 
the main armies — the armies destined to operate against 
Austria in Bohemia — commanded respectively by Prince 
Frederic Charles, the Crown Prince, and General von 
Bittenfeld, under the supreme direction of the chief of 
the general staff of the army, General von Moltke 

On the 19th of June the second army, commanded 
by the Crown Prince, and cantoned, as previously stated, 
about Neisse, in Silesia, received orders to leave one 
corps, the sixth, at Neisse, and with the remainder to 
press forward into Bohemia, and there effect a junction 
with the first army. That arm}', commanded by Prince 
Frederic Charles, was similarly directed to march by way 
of the upper Lausitz to Reichenberg, seven miles beyond 
the Bohemian frontier, and to unite with the second army 
at Gitschin, fifty miles to the north-cast of Prague. The 
Elbe army (Von Bittenfeld's) was to push on from 
Dresden, and, barred by the Saxon occupation of Konig- 
stein from attempting the Elbe valley, to make for 
Gabel, fifty miles to the north-east of Prague. To secure 
the upper Silesian frontier two detachments, commanded 
respectively by General von Knobelsdorff and General 
Count Stolberg, were left behind. 

Meanwhile the Austrian commander-in-chief, General 
Benedek, had been indefatigable in bringing into line 
the considerable forces of which the Austrian empire 
could dispose. Benedek was not at all inclined to play 
a waiting game. He had noticed the positions of the 

Benedek forestalled by Moltke. 1 3 5 

three Prussian armies, and it had occurred to him that 
by a speedy movement in advance he might strike a dis- 
abling blow at the second Prussian army whilst it was 
debouching in separate columns from the passes leading 
into Bohemia. With this plan in view he set out from 
Olmutz on the 17th June, but he had not proceeded far 
when information reached him that the first and third 
Prussian armies had entered Bohemia. He still, however, 
hoped. The army of the Crown Prince was separated, he 
ascertained, from that of Prince Frederic Charles by a 
distance of about 139 miles (225 kilometres), and it was 
yet possible, he thought, to carry out his plan. But he 
had been forestalled. The possibility that Benedek might 
attempt to overwhelm the second army whilst it was 
threading its way through the passes, had not escaped the 
penetrating eye of Moltke. To render such an attack 
impossible, he had arranged that the first and third armies 
should make three marches before the army of the Crown 
Prince should have started. The two former would thus 
be able seriously to engage the attention of the Austrians 
whilst the latter was making its way through the diffi- 
cult passes of Bohemia, and if they could only gain 
an initial advantage they would compel Benedek to 
concentrate all his efforts against the foe immediately in 
front of him. 

The event fully justified this wise prevision. Benedek 
had entrusted to the corps of Count Clam-Gallas, backed 
by 24,000 men of the Saxon army, led b\' the Crown 
Prince Albert of Saxony, the defence of the Silcsian 
frontier. Clam-Gallas had his headquarters at Miinchen- 
griitz on the Iser, fifty-five miles nearly due north of 
Prague. He had posted one brigade at Rcichcnberg, the 
second largest provincial town in Bohemia, about thirty- 
two miles to the north of his own position, seventeen to 

136 Advance of Prince Frederick Charles. 

the south-east from Zittau in Saxony. Between Miinch- 
engratz and Reichenberg he had one detachment at 
Podol, a village three or four miles from Munchengratz, 
where the Iser was spanned by the railway bridge ; a 
second at Liebenau, some eleven miles to the south of 
Reichenberg, At Hiihnerwasser, a village in the moun- 
tainous district north of the road leading to Bohmisch- 
Leipa, he had placed likewise a brigade to command the 
approaches from the direction of Dresden. 

Meanwhile Prince Frederic Charles had broken up 
from Gorlitz on the 22d, had reached Seidenberg the 
same evening, crossed the frontier by the passes of 
Schonwald and Neustadtl the morning of the 23d, 
and directed his march on Friedland,i sixteen miles 
due north of Reichenberg. Simultaneously General von 
Bittenfeld led the Elbe army along the highroad from 
Dresden leading from Schluckenau to Rumburg. The 
next morning Frederic Charles marched on Reichenberg : 
Bittenfeld on Gabel, twelve miles to the right of the 
first-named place. They both expected they might have 
to fight for the possession of Reichenberg, covering as it 
did the junction of the roads leading across the moun- 
tains by Gabel, Grottau, Friedland, and Hirschfeld. But 
Clam-Gallas was too prudent to encounter two armies 
with the much smaller force at his disposal, and he had 
directed the troops at Reichenberg to fall back on the 
approach of the enemy on Liebenau. This they did 
in a perfectly orderly manner. The Prussians occupied 
Reichenberg the same night and the following morn- 

The village of Liebenau stands about midway between 

^ Close to the village of Friedland stands out in bold relief the castle 
of that name, formerly the castle of the famous Wallenstein, but now the 
property of the Claai-Cjallas family. 

Combat of L iebenau. \ 3 7 

Reichenberg and Turnau, the latter being nine and a half 
miles from Miinchengratz. It was on the road leading 
to Turnau, immediately south of the village, that the 
Austrian commander had taken his position, more to test 
the prowess of the enemy than with the hope that with 
his vastly inferior force he could defeat him. For he 
had but four regiments of cavalry, two batteries of horse 
artillery, and a mere handful of infantry. With these 
he made an imposing show. He placed his guns on the 
summit of the hill which looks down from the south upon 
Liebenau, and kept his cavalry in hand ready to cover 
his movements. As the Prussians reached the ground 
which rises gradually to the summit of the hill the 
Austrian guns opened fire : those of the Prussians im- 
mediately responded, and in a few seconds a dense smoke 
hid the combatants from one another. It soon became 
clear to the Austrian commander that the two batteries 
at his disposal were far inferior to the enormous firing 
capacity of the enemy ; he therefore limbered up and re- 
tired, halting occasionally to fire two or three rounds in the 
direction of Kositz. Vainly did the Prussian cavalry dash 
in pursuit. The ground was against them, and before 
they could come within striking distance the Austrians 
had reformed on the Kositz hill. Thence they opened 
a smart fire on the Prussian horse, and only ceased 
when the arrival of the enemy's guns gave the Prussians 
the superiority. Then they retired in excellent order on 
Podol. The affair had been but a skirmish, but it had 
satisfied both parties : the Austrians, because in the 
presence of vastly superior numbers they had displayed 
coolness and discipline ; the Prussians, because they 
discovered that the Austrian artillery fire was not so 
dangerous as it should have been, many of their shells 
penetrating the earth without bursting, and that their 

138 Combat of Podol. 

practice was indifferent. The same evening the Prussians 
occupied Turnau, at which place the retreating Austrians 
had broken the bridge across the Iser. An advanced divi- 
sion of the army of the Elbe Hkewise occupied Bohmisch- 
Aicha on this day. 

Podol, which the Austrians now held in some force, is 
the point below Turnau where a wooden bridge and the 
railway bridge cross the Iser, here about a hundred yards 
wide. At this place Count Clam-Gallas had placed six 
battalions of infantry, intending to hold the place until his 
entire force should have time to concentrate at Munchen- 
gratz, thence eventually to fall back on Gitschin, It was 
his object not to fight a general action, but to delay 
the Prussian advance as long as possible, so as to give 
Benedek time to complete his preparations. In this object 
he only partially succeeded. 

It was eight o'clock on the evening of the 26th when 
the advanced division of Prince Frederic Charles's army 
pushed on to within 1400 yards of the wooden bridge of 
Podol and came in contact with the Austrian outposts. 
The six battalions of the latter occupied the village in 
such a manner as to make their dislodgment a work of 
time and difficulty. A large farmhouse before the en- 
trance into the village, strongly occupied, presented the first 
obstacle to the Prussians. From it, and from the skirm- . 
ishers covering it, and who had formed across the road, 
a heavy fire poured upon the advancing enemy did 
considerable damage. Nor were the defenders un- 
scathed. The needle-gun had enabled the Prussians to 
open fire from a distance beyond the range of the Austrian 
smooth-bores, and though the increasing twilight pre- 
vented them from taking a certain aim, their fire was 
nevertheless too well concentrated to fail in effect. 
Gradually their superiority in number made itself felt, and 

Combat of Podol. 1 39 

the Austrians, slowly falling back, took a second position 
behind some abattis hastily thrown up across the road 
leading into the village. The Prussians pressed on till 
within a few feet of this abattis and halted. There was 
scarcely three paces between the combatants, and the men 
on both sides fired point-blank at the breasts of their foes. 
Again, however, the power of firing much more rapidly, 
possessed by the breachloading weapons of the Prussians, 
made itself felt, and the Austrians again slowly retired. 
Yet for them there was still some consolation. The ad- 
vancing Prussians were exposed to a murderous fire from 
the upper storeys of the loopholed houses and from the 
balconies. This fire, poured into the serried masses press- 
ing, through a narrow street, had a deadly effect. Every 
shot told. The Prussians nevertheless pushed steadily 
onwards. They knew that the river was behind their 
enemy, and that the occupants of the houses must become 
their prisoners as soon as they should have forced the front 
enemy across the bridge. But on this occasion the Austrian 
soldiers fought in a manner worthy of their ancient re- 
nown. Pressed back by superior numbers, armed with a 
superior weapon, they fell back in the darkness (for the 
moon had not yet risen) coolly and without panic, dis- 
puting every inch of ground. At last they were forced on 
to the bridge. There they turned, and, confronting their 
enemies, began again a resistance as stubborn as it was 
murderous in its effects. Before their fire the Prussian 
officers and men fell rapidly. When the enemy advanced 
too close the Austrians charged them with the bayonet. 
But again the weight of numbers and the superiority of the 
weapon told their tale. After a combat, terrible in its 
slaughter, the defenders were driven back, reaching the 
other bank of the Iser in time to join their comrades, who, 
after similar deeds of heroism, had been forced from the raiU 

140 Position of Clam-G alias. 

way bridge. The two parties, uniting slowly, retreated for 
about a quarter of a mile, to a large house which com- 
manded the highway. Here they made another stand, 
gathering in many of their men who had been cut off in 
the darkness. But the Prussians were not to be denied. 
They pressed on with increased numbers, until at last 
the Austrians, having fulfilled the purpose of their general, 
fell back at four o'clock in the morning in unbroken order 
on Munchengratz. The Prussians made only a show of 
following them. The losses on both sides were heavy. 
But the Austrians left about 500 prisoners, the men who 
had occupied the houses and balconies of Podol, in the 
hands of the enemy. 

The same day the 8th corps, commanded by Von 
Bittenfeld, marching from Gabiel by Niemes, on the 
Munchengratz side of Bohmisch-Leipa, pushed on thence 
towards Huhnerwasser, and drove before it the skirm- 
ishers, all hussars, who had been thrown beyond that 
place to reconnoitre. The Austrian brigade which had 
occupied Huhnerwasser fell back then on Munchengratz, 
carrying to Count Clam-Gallas the information of the 
arrival on the field of the Prussian army of the Elbe. 

The result of the day and night encounters at 
Liebenau and Podol had been to give the Prussians 
complete command of the right bank of the Iser. The 
forces of Clam-Gallas were now concentrated at Munchen- 
gratz, immediately on the left bank. He knew he would 
be attacked on the 27th with the whole available force of 
the two Prussian armies ; he knew that against such a 
force he could not defend Munchengratz : his object 
therefore, it cannot be too strongly insisted upon, was not, 
as Prussian partisans have asserted, to fight a battle, but 
to offer with a strong rearguard a defence sufficiently 
resolute to secure for the remainder of his force an 

He retreats on Gitschin. 141 

uninterrupted march on Gitschin. And this, it will be 
seen, he accomplished. 

Regarding the action of the 27th, then, it is not 
necessary to enter into detail. It was simply a combat 
fought by the Austrian rearguard to secure the retreat of 
the main body. When, then, about ten o'clock on the 
morning of the 27th, the Prussians began to move forward, 
the Austrians set fire to the wooden bridge over the Iser, 
After some delay the advanced cavalry of the Prussians 
found a ford by which some of them crossed. Bittenfeld, 
who commanded at this point, began then to throw a 
pontoon bridge for the rest of his troops. This bridge 
was not completed till one o'clock. Then, and then only, 
did his army begin its movement across the river. The 
main body of the Austrians had long before begun its 
march to Gitschin. The rearguard meanwhile had main- 
tained a steady artillery fire on the advancing Prussians. 
When the pontoon bridge had been completed they fell 
back gradually, disputing every point, but not commit- 
ting themselves to an engagement. Having done all that 
was possible they fell back on Gitschin. They lost in 
killed and wounded 193 men and 1000 prisoners. But 
those prisoners were mostly Italians,' who laid down 
their arms without fighting for a cause which was not 
their own. The Prussians lost that day 341 men killed 
and wounded. 

In the days immediately before Wallenstein Gitschin 
had been a poor village, counting but 200 inhabitants 
dwelling in wretched cabins. But the munificence of 
that warrior had made it a flourishing town. Its situa- 
tion on the river Cydlina, which divides itself into two 

1 It is admitted that the Italian regiments showed no disposition to fight. 
Captain Mozier states that twenty-live of them laid down their arms to a Prussian 

142 'Position of Gitschin. 

branches " just below the town, and the fact that it 
possesses four flourishing suburbs, constituting the market 
of the district of the same name as the town, gave it 
considerable importance. It lies twenty miles to the 
east by south of Miinchengratz, and about twenty-nine 
from Koniggratz, in a prolongation of the direction from 
Miinchengratz. Three miles before the traveller from 
the latter place can reach Gitschin he comes upon a 
semi-circular road of broken hills, grown with patches of 
silver firs, and interspersed here and there with small 
villages made up of ten or twelve huts or cabins sur- 
rounded by orchards. It was on these hills that Clam- 
Gallas had drawn up the Austro-Saxon army. He had 
posted his right in and about the village of Eisenstadt ; 
his left on the Annaberg, a hill on the south side of tb.e 
road leading from Sobotka to Gitschin ; his centre on the 
heights of Brada ; his reserves in Gitschin. To com- 
pensate as far as was possible for the inferiority of the 
Austrian musket to the needle-gun Clam-Gallas had 
directed that the groups of fir trees I have mentioned 
should be occupied by skilled marksmen, each having two 
soldiers with loaded muskets in attendance. It will be 
obvious that this arrangement, though assuring a con- 
tinuity of fire, could only be carried out by the sacrifice 
of numbers. The Austrian guns had been skilfully 
arranged so as to bring a cross-fire on the enemy advanc- 
ing along the main road. 

It was late in the afternoon of the 29th of June when 
the corps of General von Schmitt approached the kft of 
the Austrian position. The galling fire which opened 
upon him from an unseen enemy as soon as he arrived 
within range proved to him that he had to contend with 
an army well placed and resolute to defend. In vain 
did he send his skirmishers against the marksmen hidden 

Combat of Gitschin. 143 

by the clumps of firs. Their rolling fire, well directed 
and sustained by the cross fire from the Austrian guns, 
caused him very heavy loss. He resolved after a time to 
wait the arrival of reinforcements. These came up very 
soon, led by General von Werder. This able commander, 
attacking then in considerable force, compelled the 
Austro-Saxons to quit their cover. Then ensued one of 
the severest fights of the war, the foes standing opposite 
to each other, separated only by a ravine, and firing point- 
blank. Whilst they were thus engaged we must see what 
was happening in the centre and on the right. 

There the Austro-Saxons occupied the hill of Brada 
and the range of low hills resting on the Eisenstadt, and 
in front of the village of Brada, at the foot of the slope 
of the hills on the further side the villages of Podultz 
and Diletz. Here also the Prussian attack made itself 
felt, just before the village clocks had struck five. On 
the two villages last named the Prussians threw all their 
infantry. The fight for them was very severe, the attack- 
ing party vying with the defenders in the ardour of their 
efforts. At length, about half-past seven, the Prussian 
attack relaxed. It even seemed to the hopeful Austro- 
Saxons that the enemy had been permanently repulsed, 
when an event happened which decided the fate of the 
day and enabled the Prussians to claim a victory. 

Nothing had been further from the intention of the 
general-in-chief of the Austrian army, General Benedek, 
than to permit the several corps of observation he had 
despatched to the front to be overwhelmed by superior 
numbers and beaten in detail. We have seen how Clam- 
Gallas had obeyed the directions of his commander at 
Turnau and Munchengratz, combating only for delay 
and avoiding a decisive action. But he had regarded 
the defence of Gitschin as so important that he had 

144 Benedek recalls Clam-Gallas. 

notified the day previous to General Benedek that unless 
he should receive orders to the contrary he should hold 
that place to the last extremity.^ He was holding it with 
a fair chance of success, when at half-past seven a despatch 
from Benedek reached him, directing him to avoid all 
serious engagement and to fall back on the main army. 

This despatch was the turning-point of the combat on 
both wings and in the centre. The retreat had to be 
made in the presence of an attacking enemy who would 
claim the movement as a victory. And so, indeed, it 
happened. The sullenness and steadiness of the re- 
treating troops, commented upon with apparent ad- 
miration by Captain Hozier,^ showed most clearly that 
the men falling back knew that they had not been 
beaten, that they had at least held their own, that they 
were retreating in obedience to superior orders. It is 
at least a firm belief in the Austrian army to this day 
that but for Benedek's order to retreat Clam-Gallas and 
the Crown Prince of Saxony would have repulsed the 

Such is the history, the true history, of the combat 
of Gitschin. It had been better, perhaps, for Austria 
had no despatch from Benedek interfered with the dis- 
positions of Clam-Gallas. For, as I shall have to show, 
the easy abandonment of Gitschin made possible the 
junction of the second army with that of Prince Frederic 
Charles. To the movements of that second army I must 
now turn the attention of the reader. 

It has already been stated that on the evening of the 
19th of June the Crown Prince of Prussia, who com- 

• For his conduct at Miinchengriitz and Gitschin Benedek removed 
Count Clam-Gallas from his command, and caused him to be brought before 
a court-martial. The Count was honourably acquitted. 

* Ilozier's The Seven IVee/cs' IVar, Vol. I. page 248. 

Movements of the Crown Prince. 145 

•manded the first army, received orders to move with one 
corps to Landshut, leaving a second at Neisse, and plac- 
ing a third and fourth in such a position that they could 
either co-operate with him or join the corps left at 
Neisse, according as the Austrian movements might be 
developed. It was thought not impossible that Benedek 
might begin the war by threatening the flank of the 
Prussian army in Silesia. Austria, however, was not 
nearly so ready for aggressive warfare as was her rival, 
and the chief of the Prussian staff, knowing the advant- 
age of such warfare to an army ready to move against 
an enemy whose preparations were considerably behind- 
hand, had directed the Crown Prince on the 20th of 
June to intimate to the nearest Austrian commander that 
the two nations were in a state of war, and on the 22d 
had instructed him to invade Bohemia and to make 
for Gitschin. 

The Crown Prince carried out these instructions. On 
the 25th of June he had moved his ist corps to Liebau 
and Schomberg, the Guards to Schlegel, the 5th corps 
to a position between Glatz and Reinerz, the first 
brigade of the 6th corps to Glatz, the remainder of that 
corps to Patschkau, the cavalry division to Waldenburg, 
his own headquarters to Eckersdorf He had in hand 
125,000 good troops. His plan was to march by one or 
more of the six passes, all of them difficult, which lead 
from Prussian Silesia through the county of Glatz into 
Bohemia, and to effect somewhere about Gitschin a 
junction with the first army. After due consideration he 
resolved to march by the three roads which lead to 
Trautenau, Braunau, and Nachod ; on reaching the last- 
named place, to make a move to the left with the whole 
army, using Nachod and Skalitz as the pivots, seize the 
railway from Josephstadt to Turnau, and thus come into 


146 The Austrians fall Back. 

close communication with the first army. He began this 
movement on the evening of the 26th of June. 

On that date General Benedek's army was disposed in 
the following manner : the 4th corps was at Lanzow, the 
loth at Pilnikau, the 6th at Opocno, the 3d at Konig- 
gratz, the 8th at Tinist. It will thus be seen that the 
projected movement of the Crown Prince was not without 
danger, and that had the Austrian commander been well 
served by his intelligence department it was quite possible 
for him to concentrate the five corps named and smite 
the heads of the Prussian columns as they emerged from 
the passes. 

But apparently he was not well served. The leading 
division of the 5th Prussian corps secured Nachod on the 
evening of the 26th, almost without firing a shot, as the 
Austrians had there but two squadrons and two light 
guns. On the 27th the ist Prussian corps, commanded 
by General von Bonin, marched on Trautenau, an in- 
dustrial town on the Aupa. It so happened that the only 
Austrian troops in the town were some dragoons of the 
regiment of Windischgratz and a handful of jager in- 
fantry, far too {q.^^ to defend it. They made no attempt 
to do so. The dragoons, however, engaged outside the 
town in a short hand-to-hand encounter with the Prus- 
sian cavalry. They renounced this when they saw the 
enemy's infantry hurrying up at the double, and fell 
back, accompanied by the handful of jagers, unpursued.^ 

But there was to be fighting that day. It happened 
that the loth Austrian corps, commanded by General 
von Gablenz, whom we have already met in the Danish 

' There is absolutely no truth in the story that Trautenau was defended, 
or that the entire Windischgratz regiment was routed by the Prussian cavalry. 
The account in the text is based on letters written at the time, and on the as- 
surances to me of men who served there. Vide Hozier, Vol. I. pages 264, etc. 

Combat of Trautenau. 147 

war, had despatched his ist brigade towards Trautenau 
when he heard of the Prussian advance, arranging to 
follow with his main body as soon as possible. The 
brigade arrived too late to save Trautenau, but it took 
a position on a hill called the Capellenberg, to the south 
of the town. Here it was attacked by Von Bonin's corps, 
and being pressed hard, fell back across the wooded hills 
which line the course of the Aupa. Finding the pursuit 
more harassing than he had hoped, Bonin contented him- 
self with taking possession of the village of Hohenbriick 
and the heights towards Rognitz, and at three o'clock 
halted to rest. He had scarcely done so when Gablenz 
joined his ist brigade, and assuming the offensive, drove 
the Prussian corps first from Hohenbriick, then from the 
Capellenberg, and pressing still forward, compelled the 
Prussians to evacuate Trautenau. For the second time ^ 
in the war the m^uzzle-loadcrs, well led, had beaten the 

Gablenz did not pursue the Prussians beyond Trau- 
tenau. Leaving a brigade there as a rearguard, he marched 
nearly south-eastwards and bivouacked at the little town 
of Neu- Rognitz, intending to move thence the next 
morning to Deutsch-Prausnitz, to come there in touch 
with a brigade sent to reinforce him. Meanwhile the 
Prussian Guards, ignorant of the day's proceedings at 
Trautenau, had reached that same evening the village 
of Eypel, on the Aupa, and the town of Kosteletz, five 
miles to the south-east of Eypel. During the night 
the Prince of Wiirtemberg, who commanded them, re- 
ceived information of the defeat of the Prussians, and 
resolved to avenge the affront by attacking Gablenz. 
I'^arly then the following morning he sent out patrols 
to bring him information as to the whereabouts of the 

' Langcnsalza was the first victor}'. 

148 Manceuvres on Both Sides. 

Austrian general. The patrols did their work in a very- 
slovenly manner, for they informed the Prince that 
Gablenz was marching from Koniginhof to Trautenau. 
The Prince thereupon recalled the division Hiller which 
he had despatched from Eypel towards Trautenau and 
waited for further information. Two hours later he 
learned the true state of the case, viz., that Gablenz was 
marching from Neu-Rognitz on Deutsch-Prausnitz. He 
then made dispositions to attack him from three points 
on his line of march. 

1 have stated that the object of Gablenz in marching 
to Deutsch-Prausnitz was to give the hand to Flei- 
schacher's brigade of the 4th Austrian corps, which he 
had received information had been sent hither to rein- 
force him. But mistakes sometimes occur in war, and 
very often those mistakes are fatal to success. It hap- 
pened that on this part of the Bohemian frontier there 
are two villages called Prausnitz : the one bearing the 
prefix of 'Deutsch,' the other that of ' Ober.' Both 
villages are generally spoken of in the neighbourhood 
as simply ' Prausnitz,' and it is probable that that name 
without the prefix was used in the instructions given 
to General Fleischacher. This at least is certain, that 
he marched on Ober-Prausnitz, and was not near the 
battlefield during the entire day.' 

Gablenz was close to the village of Soor when he 
became aware of the vicinity of the Prussian Guards. 
He instantly made soldierly arrangements, ranging his 
artillery on the hills between Neu-Rognitz and Burgers- 
dorf, extending his right wing to Prausnitz, and stretching 
his left towards Trautenau to give a hand to the rear 
brigade he had left in that town. The position was a diffi- 
cult one, for the task set him was to repulse an enemy 

^ Yet Captain Hozier writes of him as though he took part in the action. 

Gablenz is compelled to retreat. 1 49 

greatly superior in numbers until he should extricate his 

Had the brigade Fleischacher but moved on the 
proper Prausnitz it is probable that the Prussian attack 
would at least have been repulsed, for from the positions 
they occupied they could not attack Gablenz without ex- 
posing their flank and left rear to an enemy in Deutsch- 
Prausnitz. But, not menaced in those quarters, they 
attacked the position occupied by the Austrians with so 
much vigour that, in spite of a heroic defence, Gablenz 
was driven from position to position, until he was forced 
to abandon the hope of saving the brigade in Trautenau. 
Dearly did the Prussians pay for their success. They 
stormed one after another the Austrian positions, but it 
was ' at an awful sacrifice ; men fell every moment, and 
officers went down so quickly that hardly a company 
reached the summit commanded by its captain.' ' But 
the end came at last. Gablenz fell back slowly and un- 
pursued to Neu Schloss ; the brigade in Trautenau, cut 
off from the main body, fell back into the town, and 
yielded it only after a desperate defence. 

This success made the future movements of the two 
Prussian corps easy. On the 29th the Guards occupied 
Koniginhof, on the left bank of the Elbe, expelling thence 
the small Austrian garrison, whilst the corps of Bonin 
occupied Pilnikau. There we must leave them whilst we 
follow the movements of the other corps of the second 
Prussian army. 

The 5th Prussian corps had been directed to make its 
way through the defile which leads from Glatz to the 
town of Nachod. A strong defence to their march ought 
to have been made here, for the position is very defensible ; 
but, as already stated, no preparations had been made, 
' Hozier, Vol. I. page 272. 

1 50 Nachod. 

and the Prussians encountered only the sHghtest resist- 
ance in taking possession of Nachod and its castle. But 
the 4th Austrian corps, commanded by General Ramming, 
was at Skalitz, eight miles from Josephstadt, on the railway 
line towards the frontier, and between it and Josephstadt 
was the 8th corps, commanded by the Archduke Leo- 
pold. Benedek had instructed Von Ramming to smite the 
Prussian force as it issued from Nachod in the direction 
of Skalitz, and the Archduke to support him. 

It was about ten o'clock of the morning of the 27th 
when General Ramming attempted to carry out these 
instructions. He had ranged his corps on the plateau of 
Wenzelsberg, a little to the west of the point where the 
Nachod defile debouches into the open country, his guns 
on the high ground pointing in the direction by which the 
Prussians must emerge. These were supported by two 
brigades of infantry in front, a third in reserve, whilst 
two regiments of cuirassiers were drawn up in the open, 
ready to prevent any attempt of the enemy to rally. The 
position was admirable in many respects ; it would have 
been perfect if the Archduke had also occupied with his 
corps the village of Wisokow, situated on the railway at 
the point where the road from Nachod then joined it. 

The Prussians were commanded by General von 
Steinmetz, the advanced corps by General von Lowenfeld, 
and the Crown Prince was with them. The surprise to 
the Prussians as the heads of their columns emerged from 
the defile a little after ten o'clock was complete. The 
leading files were smitten by the fire from the Austrian 
artillery, and as the debouchment from the defile was 
narrow and the defile itself crowded, there appeared 
for them to be no salvation. Lowenfeld was, however, 
equal to the occasion. Hastening as much as possible the 
debouching of his men, he led them to a wood, which 

Combat of Nachod. 1 5 1 

partly sheltered them from the enemy's fire, and kept 
them there till two regiments of cavalry had been able 
to emerge. He ordered these to charge the Austrian 
cuirassiers. They did so with great gallantry, but after a 
semblance of success were beaten back with loss. This 
skirmish cleared the way for the Austrian infantry, who 
now rapidly approached with the intention of driving the 
Prussian infantry from the wood. Had they succeeded in 
doing so they would have not only defeated the two 
Prussian corps but have captured all their artillery. But 
the Prussians held the wood splendidly. The Crown 
Prince, forcing his way through the crowd, encouraged 
them by his words and by his example. They still held 
the wood as reinforcement after reinforcement emerged 
from the defile, but from it they could not debouch as the 
Austrian cuirassiers were in the open eager to overwhelm 
them as they might attempt to advance. The Crown 
Prince recognised that unless he could force back that 
cavalry the day was irretrievably lost. Just then the 8th 
regiment of dragoons and the 1st Uhlans emerged from 
the pass. Explaining to these that the fate of the day 
depended on their efforts, he ordered them to charge. 
They obeyed with alacrity, and, with the enormous ad- 
vantage of assailing horsemen who were stationary, whilst 
they came on with the full impetus of weight and moral 
power, they forced the cuirassiers from their position, 
and giving them no time to rally, effectually cleared the 
way. Then Steinmetz, who had come up with the 
artillery and infantry, dashed forward with both arms, 
and seizing the village of Wisokow, which ought to have 
been but was not occupied by the Austrians, made the 
position of Ramming at Wenzelsburg untenable, and 
compelled him to retreat hastily on Skalitz. Vainly did the 
cuirassiers attempt to retrieve the day. At Skalitz the 

1 5 2 Combat of Ska lit z. 

Archduke Leopold made a great bid for victory. 
Steinmetz had pressed forward, and his force engaged 
with that of the Archduke in fierce encounter. For long 
the victory remained doubtful, but after some hours of 
combat Archduke Leopold was forced to retire, first from 
Skalitz, and then, pushed by the victorious enemy, from 
a fresh position he had taken behind the Aupa. 

But there was to be one more combat for the posses- 
sion of the passes. We have seen how Von Bonin's corps 
and the Prussian Guards had, on the 29th, occupied 
Koniginhof on the Elbe. As the Crown Prince had 
resolved to unite his army at that important place before 
commencing operations in concert with the first army he 
directed Von Steinmetz to march the same day, the 29th, 
in that direction. 

Benedek, meanwhile, recognising the importance of 
the mission confided to General von Ramming, had de- 
spatched the 4th corps, commanded by General Festetics, 
to support him. Festetics had been at Lanzow on the 
26th, and had marched thence with three brigades to- 
wards Dolau the same night to support the 6th corps. 
On the 29th he was at the little village of Schweinschadel, 
three miles from, and to the west by south-west of, Skalitz. 
He was attacked there by Steinmetz, and after an 
artillery combat of three hours fell back on the fortress 
of Josephstadt. Steinmetz then resumed his march, and 
took a position at Gradlitz, two miles to the east of 
Koniginhof. There also arrived on the 30th the 6th 
corps, which had followed the 5th through the defile of 

The Crown Prince had now concentrated in the 
vicinity of Koniginhof all the corps of the second army 
which he had led into Bohemia. His ist corps was at 
Arnau, where was the bridge across the Elbe. There 

Why the Prussians were Victorious. 153 

also on the 30th communication was established with 
with the first army, then at Gitschin. 

Of the operations so far it may be remarked that 
the Prussians had, and the Austrians had not, observed 
the great principle of bringing the greatest numbers 
to bear on the decisive point In the action of Nachod, 
if the 8th Austrian corps, instead of being left in reserve, 
had occupied the village of Wisokow,^ the 5 th and 6th 
corps of the Prussian army must have been crushed. It 
would not have been difficult then to overwhelm the 
army of the Crown Prince and afterwards successfully 
to deal with that of Prince Frederic Charles. 

' The statement by Hozier that the village of Wisokow was occupied by 
the Austrians is erroneous. 



Bohemia is a country rich in strong defensive positions. 
Notwithstanding the reverses recorded in the last chapter 
Benedek might have concentrated his army, amount- 
ing on the 30th of June to 205,000 men, in a position 
which would have made the work of the invader difficult 
and dangerous. Such a position would have been pre- 
sented had he occupied the right bank of the Elbe, his 
right resting on Koniggratz, his left, in the direction 
of Chlumetz, on the ponds of the lower Bistritz, in the 
Altwasser district. In such a position he could have 
bade defiance to any enemy, whilst, even supposing he 
were to be beaten, his retreat was secured. Benedek, 
however, selected a more forward position. This I shall 
now proceed to describe. 

Immediately beyond the village of Sadowa, coming 
from the west, the road from Horitz to Koniggratz 
crosses the river Bistritz by a stone bridge. Higher 
up, as far as Miletin, and lower down, as far as Nechanitz, 
the river of itself would be only an insignificant hin- 
drance to an advancing enemy, but it flows in a broad 
marshy valley, liable to constant overflows, which sub- 
merge the roads and the bridges. On the left bank of 
the Bistritz — between it, the Trotinka, and the Elbe — 
the country is irregular and hilly. The hills and the 
chains of hills are separated from one another by ravines, 

TypoMtcliiitg Cff.Sc. 

Benedek's Position. 157 

which make excellent covered places for troops, especi- 
ally for troops not required for immediate action. The 
country abounds likewise in woods, forests, and parks, 
especially in the neighbourhood of Nechanitz and Prizm. 
Irregular as is the hill-land, a soldier viewing it from the 
right bank of the Bistritz or from the summit of the hill 
of Dub, would draw a correct impression as to its general 
character. To him it would appear a large amphitheatre, 
whose highest point on the main road traversing it to- 
wards Koniggratz was the village of Chlum. From this 
village branched country roads northwards to Gross- 
Burglitz and thence to Horitz, southwards by way of 
Prolus to Nechanitz. 

It was this tract of country, covered in front by the 
Bistritz, that Benedek had chosen in which to concentrate 
his army. 

To the right and left of the highway between Sadowa 
and Chlum, the key and centre of his position, he had 
posted the 4th corps of his army. To the right of that 
corps, towards Horzenoves and the Trotinka, the 3d and 
2d corps ; to the left, and in touch with the 4th corps, 
and extending towards Nechanitz, the largely increased 
corps of Gablenz, now formed of two corps, the 8th and 
the loth, recently blended : then the army corps of the 
■Saxons. In the reserve, somewhat to the right of Chlum, 
stood at Rosberitz the ist and 6th corps : in rear of them 
the cavalry divisions. 

The actual front of this position from the Trotinka, 
just beyond Horzenoves, by way of Chlum and Neu- 
Prizm to Hradin, was about 15,000 paces, just over seven 
English miles. Its front was thus very strongly occupied, 
there being twelve men to a pace. 

The position, naturally strong against a front attack, 
and occupied by a numerous infantry, had been further 

158 Its Advantages and Disadvantages. 

strengthened by science. Benedek had taken especial care 
to arrange his formidable artillery, 600 guns, in such a 
manner as to bear with tremendous force on an enemy ap- 
proaching from Sadowa or from the north. With this view 
he had ranged his guns about Chlum and Lipa, on three 
natural terraces, the one above the other, pointing towards 
Sadowa, but capable of being turned in a northerly direc- 
tion. That the line of fire in the Sadowa direction should 
be free and unincumbered, he had caused to be cut down 
the clumps and copses which lay between, and of the 
trees so cut down he had formed abattis, which, unseen 
from the distance, would obstruct an approaching foe, 
especially when exposed to the tremendous fire he could 

The position was undoubtedly a strong one, but in the 
actual circumstances of the case it had its drawbacks. 
The first of these has reference to the distance between 
its extreme right and Koniginhof, the headquarters at 
the moment of the army of the Crown Prince. Now, from 
Koniginhof to Horzenoves, the extreme right of Benedek's 
position, is 18,000 paces, just over eight and a half English 
miles. Supposing, as the Austrian commander had the 
right to suppose, that between the 30th of June and the 
3d of July there had been communications between Gits- 
chin and the extreme right of the Crown Prince's position^ 
and knowing, as he undoubtedly did know, that that prince 
was but three hours' march from the right of his position, 
he must have been aware that he was always liable to a 
flank attack. Allowing for delays in starting and in pro- 
gress on the part of the Crown Prince's army the march 
would not take more than six hours. The supporting 
corps would arrive at short intervals later. Benedek's 
resolution to await attack from an army in front in a 
position exposed to a flank attack a {<i\N hours after the 

The Prussian Advance. 1 59 

commencement of the front attack is then inexplicable. 
The idea that he hoped to defeat the first army before the 
second could arrive is incapable of being sustained. It 
vanishes before the stern logic of facts ; for when he had 
repulsed with heavy loss the attack of the first army he, 
not then aware of the close proximity of the second 
army, made no effort to improve his advantage. Another 
action on the part of Benedek increased enormously the 
chances of misfortune rendered possible by the near 
vicinity of the Crown Prince. On the very morning of 
the battle he removed from his post, and placed under 
arrest his chief of the staff, General von Henekstein,^ and 
appointed in his place General Baumgarten. Had 
Baumgarten been a heaven-born general, he could not 
have mastered in half-an-hour all the arrangements made 
the previous day by his predecessor. But he was a man 
not credited with capacity. His sudden appointment 
to the most important post in the army could then rarely 
fail to be most unfortunate. So, in the sequel, it proved. 

Let us turn from the examination of the Austrian 
position to the action of the army which, on the morning 
of the 3d of July, is marching to assail it. 

During the ist of July the King of Prussia, from his 
headquarters at Gitschin, gave the following instructions 
to the leaders of his corps and divisions. 

From the 4th corps the 8th division, that of General 
Horn, was to march so as to take at two o'clock the 
following morning a position at Milowitz ; the 7th divi- 
sion, that of Fransecky, to cross the Bistritz at Gross- 
Jersitz, and reach the castle of Cerckwitz at the same 
hour. The 5th and 6th divisions, commanded by General 
von Manstein, were to take a position in reserve to the 
south of Horitz, the 5th forming the right, the 6th the 

He also placed under arrest Count Clam-Gallas and General Krismanie. 

i6o Change of the Prussian Plans. 

left wing, the latter being to the east of the road leading 
from Horitz to Koniggratz. 

At the same hour on the 3d the 2d army corps was 
to take a position to the right of Horn's division — one 
division at Brschikstan, another at Pschanek. The reserve 
cavalry corps, saddled before daybreak, was to be ready 
at daybreak at Baschnitz, round which it had bivouacked. 
The reserve artillery was to move to Horitz, that of the 
3d army corps to occupy the road to Miletin, that of the 
4th on Libonitz, on the Gitschin road. 

General von Bittenfeld was to march on the ist, with 
as many troops as he could make available, as early as 
possible from Smidar to Nechanitz. The 2d army corps 
was to be in touch with Bitten feld's corps on its left, the 
division Fransecky (at Cerekwitz) in touch with the 2d 
army corps, and the latter, it was hoped, in touch with 
the army of the Crown Prince, who had been requested to 
extend his right to Gross-Blirglitz. 

The King of Prussia had arrived at Gitschin the after- 
noon of the ist of July and assumed command of the 
three armies. On the 2d he held there a council of war 
to which all the army commanders were invited. At this 
it was resolved that the following day, whilst Prince 
Frederic Charles should send a reconnaissance towards 
Koniggratz, the Crown Prince should despatch a strong 
detachment towards Josephstadt with the view to cut off 
that fortress from communication with Benedek's army. 
Circumstances occurred, however, now to be described, 
which prevented the carrying out of these plans. 

Whilst Prince Frederic Charles was attending the 
council of war held at Gitschin on the 2d two officers 
whom he had despatched to reconnoitre came upon a 
party of Austrian cavalry on the road leading from 
Horitz to Koniggratz, on the Prussian side of the Bis- 

Prince Frederic Charles advances. i6i 

tritz. The two officers, though hotly pursued, managed 
to escape, one with a sh'ght scratch, and reached the 
camp in safety. The information he brought led Prince 
Frederic Charles to believe that Benedek would attack 
him on the morrow before he could effect a junction with 
his cousin. He therefore resolved to anticipate the enemy 
by advancing to engage him in front beyond Horitz, whilst 
Bittenfeld should assail his left flank. He at the same 
time despatched an officer to the Crown Prince — the 
distance being a three hours' ride — to inform him of his 
intentions and to ask his co-operation. It is a fact 
worthy to be noted that the Crown Prince and his chief 
of the staff. General von Blumenthal, positively declined 
to accede to the request of Prince Frederic Charles, pos- 
sibly because they did not credit the report of an Austrian 
advance. It became necessary, then, for the King to 
intervene. The arrival of Count Plnkenstein with a direct 
message from the sovereign naturally met with a promise 
of compliance. 

That same night Prince Frederic Charles gave to his 
army the order to advance on the positions assigned to 
them in a previous page. He had under him 87,000 
fighting men proved in action during the campaign. He 
still clung to the idea that Benedek would attack him. 
Even when, at half-past five on the morning of the 3d, his 
army had taken the positions assigned, without seeing or 
coming in contact with Austrian troops, he did not dis- 
card the idea. To test the theory further, he at that hour 
advanced Horn's division to Dub, and the divisions of the 
2d corps to Unter-Dohalitz. Still no enemy appeared. 
Horn then received the order to advance from Dub to 
Sadowa. As he approached that place the fire from the 
Austrian guns posted at Lipa gave him the intimation 
that at last he had come upon the enemy. Whether that 


1 62 TJie Moment before the Battle. 

enemy was a strong rearguard or the main body seemed 
to him at first doubtful, but a short reconnaissance left 
no doubt on his mind that he had the entire army of 
Benedek before him. 

Prince Frederic Charles resolved to attack them 
without a moment's delay. His idea was to rivet the 
attention of the Austrian centre by a strong artillery fire, 
whilst Von Bittenfeld, on the Prussian right, and the 
Crown Prince, from the side of Koniginhof, should act 
on their wings. At eight o'clock, then, he despatched 
Horn's division direct on Sadowa and the bridge over the 
Bistritz, its artillery in front ; to its right, the 4th division 
on Unter-Dohalitz ; to its right again, the 3d division 
that of Werder, on Dohalitzka and Mokrowous. At the 
same time he directed Fransecky, then with the 7th 
division at Cerekwitz, to march on Benatek, thence to 
move southwards only when the battle should be engaged 
in front between Sadowa and Mokrowous. Of the 3d 
army corps — the 5th and 6th divisions should march at 
once in order to support the 8th, 3d, and 4th divisions, 
then at Horitz. 

Whilst these troops are marching to carry out their 
orders it may be profitable to take a last glance at the posi- 
tions occupied by the troops now about to be attacked. 
The Austrian centre, where their guns were massed, lay in 
front of Lipa and Chlum, the latter the highest point of 
their position. How the guns were ranged and how the 
approaches were defended by abattis has been already 
told. The right flank extended to the village of Sendra- 
sitz, with a brigade pushed on to the Trotina, a tributary 
of the Elbe. The left centre occupied the villages of 
Problus, Nied, and Ober-Prim, whilst the left rested on 
the wood and castle of Hradek, with an advanced guard 
at Nechanitz. The centre, supporting the artillery at 

The Battle begins. i6 


Lipa and Chlum, consisted of the loth corps about Langen- 
hof, the 3d corps near Cistovves, and the 4th corps, to 
its right, at Maslowied. The right wing counted the 2d 
corps and the 2d division of cavalry, the left centre con- 
sisted of the Saxons. In support stood the 8th corps, 
with the reserves, massed about the villages of Rosnitz, 
Wsestar, and Smeti. 

The artillery fight began a little before eight o'clock and 
became very serious half an hour later. In the fierce 
combat the well-posted guns of the Austrians had a]l the 
advantage. The morning was wet and misty, and their 
guns, carefully placed, found their target with far greater 
certainty than could those of their freshly arriving enemy. 
When the fire was becoming very hot the Prussian 
King arrived on the ground and took the command. 
He very soon had experience of the correctness of the 
Austrian aim, for whilst he was seated on his horse 
a shell burst in the midst of a party of cavalry close to 
him and killed four of the men. Shortly after this event 
the rain, which had been falling heavily all the morning, 
suddenly ceased and the atmosphere cleared. Still, so 
well posted were the Austrians that, though their fire 
continued fiercely, the Prussian staff could see but little 
beyond the smoke. The actual position occupied by 
their infantry remained an unsolved problem. The dips 
in the ground and the small woods and the copses hid 
this arm from view. Something, it was felt, must be done 
to compel this unseen enemy to display his forces. 
About nine o'clock, then, the King ordered Horn's division 
and the two divisions of the 2d army corps to cross 
the Bistritz with their infantry, and Fransecky's divi- 
sion, the 7th, to press forward against Benatek. In 
obedience to these orders the three divisions first named 
crossed the Bistritz. Their men soon found themselves 

164 The Prussians 7nake no Way. 

entangled in the wooded hills which rise on the southern 
bank of the river beyond the ground liable to swamps. 
They managed, however, to emerge and take position 
beyond the parks of Sadowa and Dohalitzka, on the hills 
which stretch from that village to Mokrowous. From 
these an artillery fire was opened ; but, although the 
ammunition waggons were twice replenished, the Prussian 
leaders could not see that much impression was made on 
the enemy. Meanwhile Fransecky had marched his divi- 
sion against Benatek, well supported by cavalry. He 
was unable, however, to win ground quickly. Perseveringly 
he pressed forward, nevertheless, overthrew an Austrian 
cavalry regiment, capturing the colour ; drove, after a very 
fierce struggle, the infantry from the wood between 
Benatek and Maslowied, and despatched thence a 
brigade, the 13th, towards Sadowa to extend a hand 
to Horn. But the splendid defence of the Austrians 
made his operations slow, and his losses very heavy. 
The fight for the wood, above referred to, was con- 
sidered one of the most fiercely contested combats of 
the war. 

With equal fury was the wood between Sadowa 
and Dohalitz contested and won. But the winning of 
these woods involved the keeping of them, and this the 
Prussians, exposed to a tremendous fire from an enemy 
most advantageously placed, found a very difficult task. 
At last the 2d army corps, which had occupied the wood 
of Dohalitz, could endure it no longer. Dashing from 
their cover, they rushed with fury against the Austrian 
positions at Lipa and Langenhof But the artillery fire 
from the former place, and that from the infantry of 
Gablenz in the latter, mowed them down, and they fell 
back after having experienced terrible losses. 

In the minds of some at least of the Prussian leaders 

The Austrians maintain their Position. 165 

the conviction must have begun to enter that unless the 
Crown Prince should appear they were beaten. Not only 
up to this time, nearly midday, had they made no impres- 
sion on the true Austrian position, but the very successes 
of Fransecky, brilliant in themselves, had not contributed 
to the attainment of their main object. For Franseck\-, 
in his zeal for combat, had pressed too far forward, for- 
getting that his main object should have been to incline 
more to his left, so as to come in touch with the troops, 
now momentarily expected, of the Crown Prince. 

Nor, whilst the fighting had been thus unprofitable on 
their left and in their centre, had the Prussian right 
accomplished much more. General von Bittenfeld had 
brought his troops into action about ten o'clock ; had set 
the 15th division, that of Canstein, across the Bistritz at 
Nechanitz, with orders to move on Hradek ; the 14th, 
following it, to drive the enemy from Problus; the i6th, 
with the reserve cavalry of the Elbe army, to support 
those movements, then to move by Charbusitz to Brzisa. 
The Austrian and Saxon defence on these points was 
splendid, and though the Prussians eventually made way 
it was but very slowly, and their advance did not affect 
the main attack and defence. 

For in the centre Horn's division, and the two army 
corps co-operating with it, had suffered tremendous losses, 
and it had been found necessary to push the 9th brigade 
of the 3d army corps beyond Sadovva to keep the 
enemy in check. It was now midday. The artillery of 
the 5th division, which had been sent forward with the 
9th brigade, covered itself, according to universal testi- 
mony, with glory. To its splendid exertions the Prussians 
attribute the fact that the Austrians were prevented from 
taking advantage of their repulse — for repulse it had been. 
However that may be — for the view is not shared by the 

i66 Advance of the Crozvn Prince. 

Austrians — the Prussian artillery was holding its front 
position when the information reached the King that the 
extreme left of Fransecky's division had come in touch 
with the Crown Prince marching from Koniginhof. To 
the movements of that prince I must now ask the 
reader's attention. 

The Crown Prince had received Lhe King's orders to 
march to co-operate in the attack on the Austrian posi- 
tion about four o'clock on the morning of the 3d of July. 
He at once issued the following orders to his generals. 

The 1st corps, that of Bonin, was to march in two 
columns from Arnau and Bohmisch-Prausnitz, the right 
column by Gross-Tretin, the left by Zabrzes, to Gross- 
Burglitz ; the reserve cavalry division was to follow them. 
The corps of Guards received orders to march from 
Koniginhof in the direction of Jericck and Lhota. The 
6th army corps was to move on Welchow, despatch thence 
a detachment to observe Josephstadt, whilst the remainder 
should push on to the Trotinka, cross it, and form the left 
wing of the second army. The 5th corps was to remain 
halted until the others should have been two hours on the 
way, and was then to march to take post at Choteborek, 
constituting there the reserve. The baggage trains were 
left where they had been. 

A glance at the map will show that, according to these 
dispositions, it was the corps of Guards which would first 
come into action. From Koniginhof, where they were, 
to Jericek and Lhota was just about seven English miles, 
say, having regard to the rain and the hilly country, three 
hours' march. From those places to Horzenowes would 
be another full hour, or in the event of the ground being 
contested two hours. Thus, to produce any influence on 
the fight, the Crown Prince must reckon on a period of 
five hours from the time of setting out. 

ct/te^M/Oi'uii ■C/ie' LpmAeAi/t/ -j/'Ae^iUyUc^. 

The Prussian Guard Corps push on. 167 

The roads were difficult for the Guards. The rain 
had saturated the clayey soil, and it was ascent and de- 
scent the whole way. The corps had received its orders 
at six, and it was past eleven before its leading columns 
reached the height of Choteborek. From this point a 
view of the battlefield was possible. To the eager troops 
it seemed as though the main fight, evidently of a very 
severe character, was taking place between Sowetitz and 
Sadovva. The other portions of the battlefield, down the 
Bistritz, were hidden from them by the intervening hills. 
Choteborek was too distant from the Austrian position to 
allow them to exercise thence any influence on the battle. 
The corps was therefore moved along the ridges of the 
hills which, on the right bank of the Trotinka, rise be- 
tween Zizelowes and Cerekwitz. For this purpose the 
Trotinka was crossed at two points, Jericek and Luzian. 
From the height of Zizelowes a solitary tree in the dis- 
tance indicated the point upon which the troops were to 
direct their march. The ist division pressed onwards in 
that direction, and at midday reached a position whence 
their artillery fire could be brought to bear with effect. 
They accordingly unlimbered and opened fire on the 
Austrian corps, which had taken its position between 
Maslowied, Horzenowes, and, on its extreme right, at 
Racitz. After an artillery combat of considerable dura- 
tion the infantry of the ist division of the Guards, followed 
by the hussars and dragoons of the same corps, advanced. 
After a manful resistance the Austrians fell back to take 
a new and stronger position on the high range between 
Maslowied and Sendrasitz. 

Whilst the ist division of the Guards was preparing to 
attack this new position, the 2d, which had followed 
in its track as far as the height of Zizelowes, had seen 
thence the solitary tree, and had begun to march in its 

i68 The Second Army makes Progress, 

direction, had moved somewhat to the right in order to 
take its proper place relatively to the ist division, and 
had taken the direction of Lipa. Whilst it is marching 
thither we have time to note that a portion of the 6th 
army corps, accidentally moving on lines parallel to that 
taken by the ist division of the Guards, had formed on 
the left of that division ; that the 12th division, marching 
early in the morning from Gradlitz, and crossing the Elbe 
by a pontoon bridge at Kukus, had taken a position of 
observation against Josephstadt, to remain thus until it 
should be relieved by the left wing of the 5th army corps, 
that of Steinmetz ; that the i ith division, that of Zastrow, 
warned at six o'clock to move from Gradlitz, had crossed the 
Elbe by the bridges of Schurz and Stangendorf, the latter 
from its state of decay requiring much repair, and after a 
very trying march had reached Welchow ; that, hearing 
there the sound of firing, borne by the wind from the 
battlefield, it had pressed hurriedly on, reached about 
midday the banks of the Trotinka, in the vicinity of 
Racitz, and had joined there in the attack on the right 
wing of the Austrian defenders, the centre and left of 
which were being assailed by the Guards at Horzenoves, 
an attack which, we have seen, had resulted in the taking 
by the Austrians of a new position at Maslowied and 

The Prussians now prepared to attack this new posi- 
tion. The 1st division of the Guards, formed on the 
heights to the south-east of Maslowied, fronting the 
central positions held by the Austrians at Chlum and 
Rosberitz ; to its left was the nth division, facing 
Nedelist ; to its right, the 2d Guard division faced Lipa ; 
the 7th division, that of Fransecky, was still fiercely 
fighting between Benatek and Sadowa ; the ist army 
corps, that of Bonin, was approaching Benatek, and 

The Crisis of the Day. 1 69 

would soon be in a position to support the 7th division 
with its right, the Guards with its left. 

It was now two o'clock. Up to that time the Prussians 
had made no real impression on any point of the Austrian 
position. In the centre the defenders had decisively 
repulsed the Prussian attack: the left of the ist army, 
the troops led by Fransecky, had suffered very severely ; 
its right, under Von Bittenfeld, had effected but little, and 
was checked in its further advance. There were wild 
spirits on the Austrian staff who urged Benedek to change 
by a general advance the repulse into a rout. The 
correspondent of the Times, Mr W. H. Russell, who 
witnessed the fight from a commanding position on the 
Austrian side, wrote that at this period the battle seemed 
won by the Austrians, and that it seemed to require only 
the assumption of a forward movement to render it 
decisive. Benedek, however, though he believed in 
ultimate victory, was not prepared to risk his army in 
a forward movement which would expose his right flank 
to troops marching from the direction of Koniginhof 
until he should receive some authentic information of 
the movements of the Crown Prince. It speaks badly 
for the efficiency of the Austrian staff that no such 
information reached him. 

The Prussians, too, were not without anxiety. The 
story told to prove that there all was confidence tells 
really the opposite tale. The story is that Bismarck 
offered his cigar case to Moltke at this period of the 
action, and that Moltke turned the cigars about to select 
the best, a proof, it is added, that at this crisis of the battle 
he was sufficiently confident of the issue to care specially 
for his palate. But, independently of the fact that con- 
firmed smokers will, under all circumstances, pick out 
the cigar which suits them, there remains this other fact 

1 70 Fatal Movement of Benedek. 

that Bismarck was anxiously watching for some sign of 
Moltke's opinion. He at least showed anxiety. 

Between two and three o'clock there was, except on 
the Austrian right, a pause in the struggle. Both parties 
rested ; the troops of the first army to gain renewed 
strength for the decisive struggle ; those of the second 
to recover the dash their fatiguing march had somewhat 
impaired ; the Austrians because they were no longer 
attacked in front, and because Benedek had resolved not 
yet to change his defensive into an offensive attitude. 

On the Austrian right, however, the contest had con- 
tinued. There, at its extreme point, the ' Schwarz-Gelb ' 
brigade had been posted at Trotinka, a village at the point 
where the rivulet of the same name flows into the Elbe. 
They were assailed by the greater part of the Prussian 12th 
division, and after a very severe contest compelled to fall 
back on Lochenitz, from which also they were driven. 

This unforeseen retrograde movement, causing the 
threatening by the Prussians of his extreme right, in- 
duced Benedek to order a movement which caused the 
loss of the battle. In a previous page^ I have shown 
that whilst the Austrian guns were posted on Lipa and 
Chlum they were supported by 'the loth corps about 
Langenhof, the 3d corps at Cistowes, and the 4th corps, 
to its right, at Maslowied. The right wing counted the 
2d corps and the 2d division of cavalry.' No sooner had 
the information reached Benedek that his right was 
seriously menaced than he sent orders to his 2d and 4th 
corps to move in that direction, to occupy the line from 
Chlum to Nedelist. This they proceeded to do. Their 
places were not taken as they should have been, for either 
by a mistake or the miscarriage of orders the 3d corps 
was left at Cistowes, where also was General Fischbacker's 

' Page 162, 

He makes a Resolute Effort. 1 7 1 

brigade of the 4th corps.^ These movements left the guns 
on Chlum and Lipa without support. 

The Prussian Guards, we have seen, were facing 
Chlum when they halted at two o'clock. Had they at 
once marched forward to the attack it is possible that 
the result of the battle might have been different ; but, 
we have seen, whilst they were halting to rest and order 
their forces, Benedek, possibly concluding that the Crown 
Prince was advancing down the Elbe to cut him off from 
Koniggratz, had denuded Chlum. When, then, between 
three and four o'clock the ist division of the corps of 
Guards marched against Chlum, and the 2d, supported by 
battalions from the ist army corps, moved on Lipa they 
found their task easy. The gunners, unsupported by 
infantry, could make no stand against the finest troops 
of the Prussian army, attacking in numbers vastly 
superior. The Prussian Guards seized Chlum, the key 
of the Austrian position, then turning south-eastward 
attacked Rosberitz, where Benedek had placed his re- 
serves. The fight at this village was most fierce. The 
reserve artillery of the Austrians, placed advantageously, 
thundered on the advancing left wing of the Guards' 
division and caused them enormous losses. Whilst the 
fight was at its height Benedek brought up strong 
infantry columns from Langenhof and Wsestar, and 
these forming rapidly, drove the Prussian Guards from 
the positions they had almost won. 

Just then, when it had seemed to the anxious mind of 
Benedek still possible to effect an orderly retreat, there 
came unexpected assistance to the Prussian Guards. 
The Prussian general, Von Mutius, who commanded the 
nth division of Zastrow's corps, had reached Nedelist, 

^ This neglect is generally attributed to the fact, previously mentioned, 
that the Chief of the .Staff had been appointed that very morning. 

172 Movements of the First Army, 

intending to halt there until he should be reinforced by 
the 1 2th division of the same corps. But when the 
sound of increasingly heavy fire from Chlum and Lipa 
reached his ears he pressed forward, and marching by 
Smeti, found himself suddenly on the right flank of the 
Austrian defenders of Rosberitz. His flank attack, made 
immediately, and when the Guards were again attacking 
Rosberitz, compelled the Austrians to evacuate the place. 
Soon the retreat of the defenders, always increasingly 
pressed, became more and more pronounced. By five 
o'clock the highway from Sadowa to Koniggratz was 
completely lost to them. 

Whilst the Crown Prince is engaged in urging his 
troops, consisting now of all the divisions of his army, 
with the exception of the 5th and a brigade of the 6th 
army corps, along this highway, it is necessary that 
we should turn for a moment to the King and the first 

We left the King and Prince Frederic Charles at 
midday, just listening to the report that the extreme left 
of his army had come in touch with the extreme right 
of that of the Crown Prince. The distance, however, 
was still great, and it was only at two o'clock that 
King William had satisfied himself that the Prince was 
pressing forward with the haste the situation demanded. 
Meanwhile he had ordered up, as a measure of pre- 
caution, his reserves to a point facing Cistowes and Lipa. 
Then, from the elevated plateau of Dub, he directed his 
anxious glances towards the north-east. Gradually he 
began to notice that the Austrian guns from Chlum and 
Lipa were directing a portion of their fire in the same 
direction. Neither the King nor the able staff which 
surrounded him could be quite certain that this change of 
direction indicated the advance of the Crown Prince, for 

Benedek retreats. i73 

it was quite possible that Fransecky might have made his 
footing so good that the Austrians were endeavouring 
to check him. Wisely, however, the King resolved to 
assume the first conjecture as representing the truth, and 
he informed his corps and divisional commanders accord- 
ingly. At two o'clock there was no longer any doubt. 
An hour later there followed the attacks on Chlum and 
Lipa. No sooner was it seen from the height of Dub 
that these positions had been forced than the King was 
pressed on all sides to send his cavalry to press the re- 
treating enemy. King William then placed himself at 
the head of the reserve cavalry corps, and rode to the 
front from Sadowa. Everywhere he encountered signs 
of victory. Everywhere shouts of applause greeted him. 
He did not stop until he reached the fortress of Konig- 
gratz, upon which and upon Pardubitz and Hohenmauth, 
the Austrian army had fallen back. He had reason to 
be content. He had won the battle which was to give 
to Prussia the much desired preponderance in Germany, 
and more even than that. 

For to Benedek, after Chlum and Lipa and Rosberitz 
had been stormed, the conviction was clear that the day 
was lost. The unfortunate movement to the right of two 
of his corps, under the mistaken impression that the 
principal attack was being made there, had ruined him. 
But in the dark hour of his misfortune he behaved as an 
energetic and capable soldier. Covered by his cavalry, 
and but feebly pursued by the victorious enemy, he crossed 
the Elbe by the many bridges he had constructed between 
Koniggriitz and Pardubitz, and fell back on Hohenmauth, 
breaking the bridges behind him. His losses had been 
heavy, consisting of about 18,000 killed and wounded, 
I9?300 prisoners, 161 guns, and five standards. The 
Prussian loss in killed and wounded amounted to nearly 

174 ^^^^' Defeat decisive of the War. 

10,000. Though in numbers the three Prussian armies 
had surpassed the enemy the Austrians had more than 
once been superior on the decisive points. The three 
Prussian armies counted 230,984 men, that of the Austrians 
205,000. Of the battle I will only venture to remark 
that one fault lost it. It is at least possible, that if the 
Austrian commander had kept his two infantry corps 
massed about Chlum he might have repulsed the tired 
troops of the Crown Prince. But it was not to be. Of the 
part taken by the needle-gun in this battle, there is but 
little to record. The first phases of the fight brought the 
artillery on both sides to the front. Even in its later 
phases, the cannon and the bayonet charge did the prin- 
cipal part, and, as we have seen, there was practically 
no pursuit ; the victors had been thoroughly exhausted. 

Of the subsequent movements of the armies engaged 
I shall write in the next chapter. But I shall not delay 
till then to record that there were few superior officers in 
the beaten army who failed to realise that the defeat was 
a decisive one, and that the paramount influence of 
Austria, exercised for nearly 600 years ^ in the affairs of 
Germany, had departed for ever. 

^ Rudolph of Habsburg was elected Emperor of Germany in 1273, and 
acquired Austria in 1278. 



In writinfj a history of the re-founding of the German 
Empire the writer is constrained to bear in mind and to 
give prominent importance to the decisive events which 
chiefly tended to accompHsh that main object of Prussian 
poHcy. Of these the battle of Koniggratz was not only 
one, but the most important one. It had been decided 
almost before the Main army had begun to move. One 
event had preceded it, the battle fought by the Austrians 
against the Italian allies of Prussia. But as this battle 
and the combats of the Main army at Kissingen and 
elsewhere constitute mere side issues, but little if at all 
affecting the main issue, I shall be pardoned if I devote 
to the consideration of these less space and less detail 
than I have given to the decisive battle of Koniggratz. 

The first of the side issues to be noticed is the battle 
of Custoza. When Italy had, in the manner described, 
resolved to make common cause with Prussia against 
Austria, and had even refused the offer of Venetia, made 
to her too tardily by the Austrian Emperor, because she 
considered herself bound by honour to carry out her 
engagements with the northern German power, she formed 
two armies, one, the principal, under the maker of the 

176 Movements of the Italian Armies. 

treaty with Prussia, General La Marmora, to attack the 
line known as the Verona-Peschiera line ; the other, led 
by General Cialdini, to cross the lower Po into the 
Venetian territory. To defend the Austrian Italian 
territories the cabinet of Vienna had placed the Archduke 
Albert, son of the illustrious Archduke Charles, with the 
5th, 7th, and 9th army corps, an infantry reserve of four 
regiments, constituting a total of 73,000 men and 272 
guns, between Pastrengo and San Bonifacio, in such a 
position that he could easily operate against an enemy 
on either bank of the Adige. The Archduke was forty- 
nine years old ; had been brought up at the feet of 
Radetzky ; had seen many combats, but had never com- 
manded in chief in war.^ 

King Victor Emanuel had, on the eve of the breaking 
out of hostilities, joined and taken command of the prin- 
cipal army, which counted 146,000 men and 228 guns. 
He had resolved to cross the Mincio as soon as he 
should hear that hostilities had broken out in Germany. 
This information reached him on the 23d of June. 
Accordingly, he at once ordered the passage of that 

The news that the Italians had crossed the Mincio 
reached Archduke Albert at two o'clock on the afternoon 
of the same day. Divining that it was the intention of 
Victor Emanuel to march by way of Villafranca and 
Isola della Scala to cross the Adige, so as to give touch 
to the advancing troops of Cialdini, and finding his con- 
victions confirmed by the reports of his officers sent 
to reconnoitre, the Archduke resolved to seize at once 
the high ground between Somma Campagna, Sona, and 

1 It was well understood that in his military combinations during this 
campaign the Archduke was mainly guided by the advice of his very capable 
chief of the Staff", the Freiherr Franz von John. 


The Austrimis take tJie Initiative, 1 79 

San Giustina on the one side, and Valeggio, Monzam- 
bano, and Peschiera on the other, thence to assail the 
left flank of the Italian army on its march to the Adige. 
Having given the necessary orders, the Archduke, guided 
by the Freiherr von John, rode the same evening to San 
Massimo. Further informed there by his scouts, he 
directed the occupation very early the following morning 
of the line formed by Sandra, San Giustina, Sona, and 
Somma Campagna, and the making from the last named, 
which was to be the pivot, of an inclination to the left 
to bring the army on to the line formed by Castelnuovo, 
San Giorgio in Salice, Zerbare, and Berettara. He had 
present with him for these operations only about 57,000 
men and 272 guns, the remainder having been used to 
occupy Peschiera and other fortresses. 

The main Italian army was more considerable in 
numbers. Yet in the march he had undertaken the 
King had not been able to bring them all upon one 
line. In the action about to be forced upon him he 
could not utilise more than 90,000 men and 192 guns. 
It is necessary, however, to add that at one period of 
the fight the garrison of Peschiera made a demonstration 
in favour of the Austrians, a fact which should diminish 
the proportions indicated by the above figures. 

At three o'clock in the morning of the 24th of June, 
after a night of storm and rain, the Austrian divisions 
marched to take up the positions assigned to them. 
The first concussion between the two armies was caused 
by the encounter of the Austrian 5th army corps on its 
march on Castelnuovo with the reserve cavalry division 
of the Italian army, the division of the Crown Prince 
Humbert, and the division Bixio. The fight here was 
very severe, and lasted nearly the whole day. Mean- 
while General Cerale commanding the advanced guard 

i8o The Austrian s push All before Them. 

of the Italians, had been attacked about seven o'clock 
by the Austrian reserve division near Alzarea, and 
forced back into Oliosi. The Austrian attack upon 
this village was very severe. The Archduke for a 
time directed the operations here in person, bringing 
up a brigade of the 5th army corps to support his 
reserves, whilst he directed two other brigades to 
gain possession of San Rocco di Palazzuolo. He suc- 
ceeded likewise, whilst the fight here was progressing, 
in completing the communications between his several 
corps and divisions. After a strong Austrian cannonade 
Oliosi was set on fire, and Cerale had to evacuate it 
and fall back, contesting every inch of the ground, on 
Montevento. Thither he was followed by his persistent 
enemies, and so severely wounded that he had to make 
over command to the next officer. But he also fell, 
and the troops, hotly attacked, were left for a time with- 
out support. 

For, whilst this division was being hardly pressed, 
other Austrian troops had completely occupied the at- 
tention of the remainder of the Italian army. At length, 
however, the division Sirtori came to the support of the 
Cerale division by taking an alignment to its immediate 
rio-ht. But it was in vain. At two o'clock the Austrians 
stormed Montevento. For a moment the progress of 
the victors was stopped by the sudden appearance on 
the field of the brigade of General Pianelli, left on the 
right bank of the Mincio, but which had been attracted 
by noticing the desperate plight of the Cerale division — 
but it was only for a moment. By three o'clock the 
left wing of the Italian army had been completely driven 
from the field. 

Meanwhile the fight had been raging with great fury 
on the heights of the eastern bank of the Tione. Here 

Gallantry of the Italians. 1 8 1 

the 9th Austrian corps had received orders to maintain 
itself at Somma Campagna. When, then, at eight o'clock 
in the morning of the 24th, its commander, Field-Marshal- 
Lieutenant Hartung, observed one Italian division press- 
ing on by way of Madonna della Croce, and another 
across Monte Torre, he occupied Casa del Sole and Beret- 
tara strongly with his artillery. Just then he received 
orders to attack Custoza with his full strength. He did 
so, but the division Eugia, supported on its right by the 
division of the Crown-Prince Humbert, offered a very 
determined resistance. Against the latter the Archduke 
detached two divisions of cavalry. These charged re- 
peatedly, but the squares formed by the Italian footmen 
were not broken. They were fighting under the eye of 
their Prince, himself constrained to take shelter in their 

Whilst the fight at this point was being vigorously 
carried on the division Brignone, consisting of two 
brigades, the one led by General Gozzani di Treville, 
the other by Prince Amadeus, came into the fight at a 
point between the divisions Eugia and Sirtori. These 
brigades had been originally designed to be the reserve 
of the two army corps now engaged. They had crossed 
the Mincio the previous evening, and on their march on 
the morning of the 24th to Valeggio had received orders to 
cross the Tione to Custoza. There La Marmora himself 
led them into the fight. Advancing from Custoza to 
Monte Godio, they were assailed by the 7th Austrian 
corps. But the men led by La Marmora were the picked 
soldiers of the Italian army — the grenadiers of Sardinia 
and Lombardy — and here, attacked by superior numbers, 
they displayed a courage and conduct not to be surpassed. 
Though other Austrian troops were brought against them, 
they maintained themselves on Monte Godio till past mid- 

1 82 Complete Defeat of the Italians. 

day, then, having lost both their commanders, wounded, 
they were forced to fall back to Custoza. 

The retreat of these brigades, coupled with the defeat 
of Cerale's division, already described, had the effect of 
restricting the Italian line of combat They held now 
La Bagolina, Staffalo, and .Custoza. On these points they 
still offered a stern resistance. But the Archduke Albert 
was now able to bring the greatest numbers to bear on 
the decisive point, and his troops, always making way, 
succeeded in rendering those positions untenable. At 
five o'clock the Italians, outflanked on their left and 
pressed in front, began to give way. They fell back, 
however, in excellent order ; nor was it until seven o'clock 
in the evening that the Austrians entered the long- 
defended Custoza. 

I have given more space to this battle than I had 
intended to bestow upon an event which I have described 
as a side issue, because, whilst the soldiers on both sides 
displayed courage and conduct, the triumph of leadership 
was with the Austrian leaders. They had the fewer troops, 
but their generals kept them well in hand, and maintained 
throughout the fight the connection between all the parts of 
his army. Pressing them on their front, they rolled them 
up by a strong attack on their left flank. In the leader- 
ship of the Italian army this latter quality was conspicuous 
by its absence. There was no unity of action. Each 
corps and each division seemed to fight for its own hand. 
Thus the Austrians, inferior as a whole, were superior at 
every decisive point, and thus they won the day. In 
Austria, the credit of the victory is given to the Chief of 
the Staff, General von John, and it was towards him that 
the hopes of every Austrian were turned when the news 
was spread that Benedek had been bsaten at Koniggratz. 

Turn we now to recount very briefly the campaign in 

The Bttnd Army. i8 


Bavaria. The Diet had on the 14th of June decreed the 
assembly of the army at Frankfort. It was to be com- 
posed of troops from Wtirtemberg, Baden, the Grand 
Duchy of Hesse, Saxony, Nassau, and Austria; and to 
be placed under the command of Prince Alexander of 
Hesse, an officer who had served with distinction in the 
wars waged by Austria. The decree was very generally 
responded to, and on the i8th of June Prince Alexander 
had under his orders 55,900 men. 

Bavaria meanwhile had put into the field her own 
national army, consisting of 52,000 men, under the com- 
mand of Prince Charles of Bavaria, a veteran in his 
seventy-first year, who since 181 5 had not seen a shot 
fired. This prince directed likewise the movements of 
the 8th Federal corps, that of Prince Alexander of Hesse. 
The army of Prince Charles occupied the valley of the 
Upper Main, and he had his headquarters at Bamberg. 

Prince Charles began his campaign by losing an 
opportunity which, if he had taken it, might have 
materially affected the fortunes of the war. In the 
seventh chapter I have told how the King of Hanover, 
pressed by superior forces in front, and his line of retreat 
occupied by a division 9000 strong, had sent pressing 
messages to the two princes, Alexander and Charles, to 
disengage him by a prompt advance. A glance at the 
scene of operations will show that had Prince Charles 
acted with vigour, had he detached a strong force into 
Thuringia, drawing to himself the King of Hanover on 
the one side and Prince Alexander on the other, he 
would have met the Prussian invasion with vastly superior 
forces, and had he been as capable as his admirers 
believed him to be, would have driven them back far into 
Prussian soil. But, instead of doing this, he replied to 
the message of the King of Hanover in a manner which 

184 The Prussians Army of the Main. 

could not fail to be read as insulting,^ and detached by 
ordinary marches a brigade of cavalry to Meiningen — 
a perfectly useless proceeding. His punishment was to 
be sharp and immediate. I may add that no punishment 
was more richly deserved. 

The capitulat on of the Hanoverian army on the 28th 
of June left th ,' several Prussian divisions which had 
pursued that arny to its destruction free to act against 
the Federal forr es on the Upper Main and at Frankfort. 
Their leaders a cted with a celerity and a dash which left 
nothing to be desired. Joined under the command of 
General Vogel von Falkenstein, they numbered 53,000 
men. What their position would have been if Prince 
Charles had opened a way for the retreat of the Hano- 
verians may be judged from the fact that in that case 
they would have had to meet an army 125,000 strong. 
As it was they had before them two armies, each at least 
equal in strength to their own. Success for them, then, 
was a question of leadership. 

On the 1st of July Von Falkenstein had collected the 
divisions Manteuffel, Goeben, and Beyer at Eisenach. 
His object was to press forward so as to interpose 
between the army of Prince Charles on the Upper Main 
and that of Prince Alexander at Frankfort. Prince 
Charles, scenting the danger, had transmitted orders to 
Prince Alexander to join him by way of Hanau, Fulda, 
and Hiinfeld, whilst he moved with his army into the 
Fuldathal ; pushing two divisions forward to Dermbach, 
and a strong cavalry division to the left to assure the junc- 
tion with the 8th corps (Prince Alexander's). On the 4th 
of July, this cavalry division came in sharp contact at 

' Hozier's The Seven Weeks' War, Vol. II. page 9. 'Prince Charles 
only replied that an army of 19,000 men ought to be able to cut its way 

Combats at Dermback and Kissingen. 185 

Hlinfeld with the advanced guard of the Prussian divi- 
sion, Beyer marching by the highroad to Geysa, whilst 
Goeben was bending towards the left to take the 
Bavarians at Dermbach, and Manteuffel was following 
as a reserve to both. The Bavarian cavalry, thrown into 
disorder by the artillery fire of Beyer, fell back rapidly. 
Meanwhile Goeben had caught the two Bavarian divisions 
at Dermbach, had attacked them vigorously, but had 
made little impression upon their superior numbers. To- 
wards evening he drew off. Both sides claimed the 
victory, but there can be no doubt that the advantage 
rested with the Bavarians, for they had repulsed a for- 
midable attack. The next day the entire Bavarian army 
moved southwards to effect a junction with Prince Alex- 
ander. To prevent or to neutralise the effects of this 
junction Goeben pressed on by way of Fulda, and caught 
the Bavarian army at Kissingen on the loth. The fact 
that the Bavarian army was spread over a distance of 
twenty-five miles, whilst he was supported at a lesser 
distance by two divisions, gave Goeben an advantage of 
which he made the fullest use. The Bavarian troops in 
the town and on the neighbouring heights were indeed 
well placed, but the vigour of Goeben's attack bore down 
all opposition. His men forced their way into the streets, 
drove the Bavarians from the town and from the heights 
behind it, and compelled them to retreat on Hasfurt, 
Schweinfurt, and Wiirzburg on the Main. On the same 
day the division Beyer, after a sharp combat, had occu- 
pied Hammelburg, twelve and a half miles from Kissingen, 
and that of Manteuffel had driven the enemy from Walda- 
sechach and Hausen. Prince Charles, after the retreat 
from Kissingen, had established his headquarters at 
Schweinfurt. To hinder a junction between him and the 
Federal army Von Falkenstein made a sudden dash on 

1 86 Complete Success of the Prussians. 

Aschafifenburg. On the 13th of July he smote, at Fron- 
hofen and Laufach, a Hessian division sent thither by 
Prince Alexander, and on the 14th, in front of Aschaffen- 
burg, defeated an Austrian division of the same army. 
The Prussians then stormed the town. The consequence 
of this success was the evacuation of Frankfort by the 
Federal army, and the entry therein, on the i6th of 
July, of General Von Falkenstein. Biberich and Darm- 
stadt followed the example of Frankfort in submitting 
to the Prussians. 

In consequence of the forward march of the three 
Prussian armies which had fought at Koniggratz from 
Bohemia the King had deemed it necessary to appoint 
a Prussian Governor-General of that kingdom, and had 
selected for the post the victorious general Vogel von 
Falkenstein. Manteuffel replaced him in command of 
the main army, increased now to a strength of 65,000 
men. Meanwhile the Bavarian and the Federal armies 
had succeeded in approaching each other near Wiirzburg. 
They might easily have effected a real junction, but to 
delay this as much as possible Manteuffel marched against 
the Federal army, crosssed on the 24th of July the 
river Tauber, in the face of the Hessian division at 
Wertheim, of the Wurtembergers at Tauberbischofsheim, 
and of the Badeners at Werbach. Whilst one of his 
divisions stormed Hochhausen and Werbach with great 
resolution another forced its way into Tauberbischof- 
sheim. Here the fight was very severe. The Wiirtem- 
bergers were commanded by Von Hardegg, a capable 
officer, and five times did this brave man lead forward his 
troops for the recovery of the village. But the Prussians 
would not quit their hold. The Federal army then fell 
back upon a strong position at Gerchstein, linked on its 
right to the Bavarian army at Helmstadt and Uettingen. 

End of the Campa ign . 187 

Manteuffel attacked this position on the 25th. He sent 
Goeben against the Federal troops in Gerchsheim, Beyer 
against the Bavarians at Helmstadt, holding in reserve 
the division Fliess, who had succeeded to its command. 
If there had been the slightest unity in the counsels 
of the allies, or the least pretence to leadership on the 
part of any one of their commanders, it had been pos- 
sible to inflict a severe blow on the assailants, for two 
Prussian divisions were attacking posts strongly held and 
supported by a powerful army. But the imbecility which 
had characterised the movements of Prince Charles of 
Bavaria was never more manifest than on this occasion. 
The Prussians gained a footing in the villages attacked, 
the enemy falling back. And although the following 
morning Prince Charles talked loudly of attacking, second 
thoughts prevailed, and he resolved to retreat across the 
Main. But the Prussians gave him no rest. On the 26th 
they threatened his rearguard at Helmstadt. He suc- 
ceeded, however, in taking his army across the IN'Iain at 
Wiirzburg, and occupied a position to the east of that town. 
The indefatigable Prussians followed him close, and on 
the 27th opened a fire against the fortress of Marienburg, 
on the hill opposite Wiirzburg. Such was the position 
when the information reached the combatants that an 
armistice had been concluded and that operations were 
to cease. 

A German writer, Heinrich Blankenburg, who has 
written an account of the war of 1866, has stated that 
' if a laurel branch could be awarded to Prince Alexander 
of Hesse, Prince Charles of Bavaria ought to have re- 
ceived a crown of poppies.' ^ That they both had splendid 

' See also Malet's Overthroiv of the Germanic Confederation by Prussia 
in 1866. The detailed account of the operations of the Main army in this 
book leaves nothing to be desired. 

1 88 Effect in Vienna of Koniggrdtz. 

fighting material was proved four years later in France. 
But, combating in their own territories against half their 
number — that half led, however, by men who knew their 
own mind — they gave a living proof to the world that 
an army of lions can do nothing when their leaders are 
incompetent. ' How not to do it ' was stamped upon all 
the manoeuvres of Prince Charles and his associates. 

How was the armistice referred to in this page brought 
about ? We left the army of Benedek retreating from the 
field of Koniggratz on the evening of the 3d of July. We 
have seen him taking the road leading to Olmiitz, whilst 
Gablenz, with the loth corps, the three heavy and one 
light cavalry divisions, took the road direct to Vienna. 
The rearguard was formed of the 8th corps and the 
Saxons, and remained one march behind the main army. 
The Prussians were not in a condition to follow Benedek 
before four o'clock on the afternoon of the 4th, so that 
the Austrian commander had a start of nearly twenty-four 

The effect in Vienna of the results of the battle 
made itself felt at once. Benedek was removed from his 
command, though authorised to hold it pending the 
arrival of his successor, the victor of Custoza ; Venetia 
was ceded to the Emperor of the French in the hope 
that this act of renunciation would procure a cessation 
of hostilities in Italy ; the army which had fought at 
Custoza was ordered to Vienna ; Benedek was directed 
to send the three generals he had placed under arrest 
on the morning of the battle to Vienna to be tried. 

It is unnecessary, in a work of this character, to note 
in detail the marches of the beaten and victorious armies 
in their progress eastward. It must suffice to state that 
on the 7th of July the 3d and 5th corps of the Austrian 
army were sent by railway to Vienna ; that Archduke 

The PriLssians before Vienna. 189 

Albert assumed the command-in-chief on the 12th; that 
he took a position at Floridsdorf, on the north bank of 
the Danube, three miles from the city, and there in- 
trenched himself; that he called to him the army still 
remaining under Benedek, and which that general had 
caused to halt at Olmiitz. When Benedek attempted, on 
the 14th of July, to obey this order, the King of Prussia 
was at Briinn, and the Austrian commander found the 2d 
army was so disposed as to bar the direct road from Olmiitz 
to Vienna. In attempting, on the 14th, to break out in 
that direction, he received a v^ery severe slap at Tobits- 
chan. But, on the i6th, he made his way to Pressburg, 
across the Little Carpathians. It was only by dint of 
hard marching over terrible roads that he accomplished 
this task. The Prussians, meanwhile, had pressed on by 
the direct roads, and on the i8th of July their King fixed 
his headquarters at Nikolsburg, in Moravia, fifteen miles 
from Vienna, having under him 194,000 tried soldiers, 
and, supporting them in the second line, 49,600 men 
ready for immediate action. 

Perhaps no one in all Europe had been so disap- 
pointed at the short duration of the war as the French 
Emperor. Instead of there being an exhaustive contest, 
draining the resources of the two nations, and render- 
ing both anxious to obtain the services of an ally or 
a mediator, this war had been practically decided just 
a fortnight after it had broken out. Determined, how- 
ever, to exercise if possible some influence in German 
affairs, Napoleon III. had despatched to the headquarteis 
of King William, as soon as he had heard the result of 
the decisive battle, an agent to urge the agreement to 
an armistice for three days. The King of Prussia had 
agreed to the proposal on certain conditions, but the 
Emperor of Austria had declined to accept conditions, 

190 Atisti'ia accepts an Armistice. 

which, he stated, were advantageous only to Prussia. 
The war therefore continued. But the King of Prussia 
had scarcely set foot in the castle of Nikolsburg when 
he was approached by Count Benedetti, the French 
ambassador, who had arrived there before him, with 
fresh proposals for an armistice. The King forwarded 
the proposals to Vienna, with the expression of his 
willingness to treat. 

The position of Austria was at the moment very 
critical. Her second army occupied an intrenched camp 
in front of Vienna. Benedek, with the greater portion 
of the first army, was at Pressburg, in communication 
with the Archduke, yet forty English miles distant from 
Vienna. Immediately behind both was Hungary, not 
yet reconciled to the House of Habsburg, the feelings 
of her people liable to be roused by the formation at 
Neisse, in Silesia, of a Hungarian legion, under the 
famous Klapka, ready to cross the Jablunka pass into 
Hungary, and to urge a general outburst against Austria. 
A defeat at Floridsdorf; the intervention of the Prussian 
army between that place and Pressburg, difficult though 
not impossible ; the possibility of a rising in Hungary 
■ — all these were dangers which had to be considered. 
They were considered, and the Emperor finally resolved 
to accept an armistice which would disclose to him 
whether the terms upon which Prussia would insist 
constituted a danger greater than those which a con- 
tinuance of the war would involve. He despatched 
a reply to that effect on the evening of the 21st, and 
on the following day negotiations were begun. 

Before the five days had passed prcliminiaries were 
agreed and signed. These were to the effect (i) that, 
with the exception of the Venetian territories of which 
the Emperor of Austria had already disposed, the 

Articles of the Armistice of Nik o Is burg. 191 

dominions of the Austrian Emperor should remain 
intact ; (2) that the Emperor of Austria should recognise 
the dissolution of the German Federation, agree to a new 
arrangement of the ties which should unite Austria to 
Germany, promise to recognise the North-German Federa- 
tion and a South-German Federation about to be formed, 
and not to interfere with either ; (3) that the Emperor should 
transfer to the King of Prussia his rights over Schleswig 
and Holstein ;-i (4) that Austria should pay to Prussia a 
war indemnity of 40,000,000 thalers, of which one-half 
should be in cash — 15,000,000 to represent the value 
of Austria's cession of the Elbe duchies, and 5,000,000 
the cost of provisioning the Prussian army so long as it 
should remain in Austrian territory ; (5) that, at the express 
desire of Austria, Prussia would leave the kingdom of 
Saxony in the state as to territory in which it was at the 
beginning of the war, reserving to herself the right to 
make special provisions with that kingdom regarding the 
war indemnity it should pay and the terms on which it 
should enter the North-German Federation, Austria 
promising to recognise all the territorial changes Prussia 
might see fit to make in North Germany. 

The sixth article provided for the agreement of the 
King of Italy to the above terms ; the seventh for the 
ratification of the treaty within two months ; the ninth for 
the duration of the armistice for two months from the 
2d of August. 

It may be convenient here to add that the above terms 
were the basis of the definitive treaty which was signed at 
Prague on the 23d of August following. 

^ To this, at the instigation of the French Emperor, was added a clause, 
absolutely illusorj' in practice, providing for the cession of the northern 
districts of Schleswig to Denmark if the people of those districts should by 
a free vote express their desire to be so united. 

192 What Prussia gained by the War. 

Such was the treaty which terminated the war of 1866 
between Austria and Prussia. The reader will not fail to 
note that whilst the second article excluded Austria from 
the rest of Germany, and gave to Prussia the right to 
make her own terms with the several kingdoms and princi- 
palities which, up to 1866, had regarded Austria as their 
head, and which had adhered to her in the quarrel forced 
by the North on the South; it accorded likewise to Prussia, 
in the fifth article, the power to annex Hanover, electoral 
Hesse, Nassau, and Frankfort, for, although those places 
were not mentioned, Austria renounced her right to inter- 
fere in any way with the territorial dispositions Prussia 
might choose to make. And, as was to be expected, she 
made without scruple those which contributed to her own 

But the advantages derived by Prussia from the war 
were in reality far greater than a casual reader might 
gather from a perusal of the above analysis. What they 
were I propose now briefly to consider. 

The war of 1866 had been designed deliberately by 
Count Bismarck for the effecting of two purposes : the 
one the driving of Austria out of Germany, the other 
the forming of a new federation of all the other States of 
Germany, of which Prussia should be the dominant power, 
the sole controller, the supreme arbiter. The first object 
had, we have seen, been secured for her by the treaty 
of Prague. To realise the other without further fighting 
it was necessary to obtain the assent of the French 
Emperor. The eyes of that potentate had not even 
then been fully opened to the fact that, during the many 
conversations between himself and Bismarck preceding 
the war, the latter had completely cajoled him. He 
still hoped, it might almost be said he still believed 
that as a return for all that he had done for Prussia ; 

Napoleon III. again otUivittcd. 193 

for the influence he had exercised in cementing the 
alliance with Italy ; for his coldness towards Austria, he 
might receive some of the coveted spoil. He was soon 
undeceived. When, during the negotiations at Nikols- 
burg and Prague, Bismarck mooted to him his project for 
uniting all Germany, the Austrian provinces excepted, 
under the leadership of Prussia, the Emperor absolutely 
refused his concurrence. Then, hoping still to gain some- 
thing, he proposed a counter project, greatly limiting 
the power Prussia was anxious to obtain, Bismarck, 
knowing well with whom he was dealing, rejected his 
project, throwing out, however, a hint that it might be 
possible for France to indemnify herself by annexing 
Belgium. For a moment the Emperor seemed to hesi- 
tate. Then, further considering Bismarck's new plan, 
and thinking he detected in it an element which he 
could work to the advantage of France, he withdrew 
his opposition. It was finally arranged, with his approval, 
that whilst Prussia should not be prevented from annex- 
ing Hanover, Electoral Hesse, Nassau, and Frankfort, 
she should have power to extend to the States south of 
the Main the right of entering into some kind of national 
arrangement with the northern league. 

In the next chapter I shall have to show that it would 
have been better for Napoleon III. had he kept entirely 
aloof from the negotiations between Prussia and the 
Southern States of Germany. For we shall see how, 
by his interference, adroitly used by Bismarck, he suc- 
ceeded in placing in the hands of the King of Prussia 
the most powerful weapon against France which had 
been forged since the time of Charlemagne. 




On the very eve of the war the French Emperor had 
declared ahke his conceptions of the reasons for its break- 
ing out and the conclusions to which it pointed. The 
aspirations of Italy and Prussia, he declared, were natural 
and just. The former required the completion of its 
geographical position, an end which would be obtained 
by the cession of Venetia. Prussia wished to remedy the 
faulty geographical arrangements which impaired her 
military action, and to introduce an improved Federal 
system into Germany. These ends would be accom- 
plished, he declared, by a rearrangement of territory in 
the north of Germany, and by the creation of an effective 
union between the secondary German States. As to 
Austria, by the cession of Venetia to Italy, her strength 
in Germany would not be impaired. Such a solution of 
the war, he added, being one of internal arrangement 
only, would not impose upon France the necessity of 
rectifying her frontiers. 

Such were the professions of the French Emperor 
before the war. As was usual with all declarations 

Position of Napoleon HI. 195 

emanating from the same source, the spoken word con- 
cealed the secret thought. What that thought was has 
been too often stated in these pages to require repetition. 
It was confided to Bismarck at Biarritz and at Paris, 
and again, by the French ambassador, at Nikolsburg and 
Prague ; and Bismarck, so long as the passive attitude of 
France was essential to the carrying out of his plans, had 
encouraged the Emperor to believe that something would 
come of it. But as soon as he had completed, signed, and 
sealed the arrangements recorded at the close of the last 
chapter, Bismarck had no further use for Napoleon III. 
He had got from the alliance all he wanted. Thence- 
forward he would have, as he understood thoroughly, to 
prepare for a struggle with the country the sovereign of 
which he had cajoled, smoothed with fair promises, and 
was now about deliberately to throw over. 

The position in which Napoleon III. found himself in 
the autumn of 1866 was one especially galling to a man 
who for so many years had endeavoured to pose, and who 
to a very great extent had succeeded in posing, as the 
arbiter of the continent. He had done much during 
the fifteen years of his reign. He had largely aided in 
humbling Russia, had made Italy, had worked hand in 
hand with England, had increased the territories of 
France on her south-eastern border, and had made him- 
self a sleeping partner with Bismarck in the attempt to 
enlarge Prussia. Careful, even prescient, in four of these 
undertakings, he had absolutely given him-^clf away in the 
fifth. Whilst Bismarck had been making preparations 
he had trusted entirely to chance. His best troops were 
still in Mexico, and the army which remained in France 
was not ready for war. He had not only hoped, but had 
regarded it as an absolute certainty that the war would 
be long, and that it would finally end by leaving in 

196 Savison aiid Delilah. 

Germany two great powers, the North and tlic South, 
antagonistic to each other; Austria, strengthened possibly 
by the cession of Silesia ; Prussia, by the incorporation of 
Hanover ; France compensated by the cession of the 
Rhenish frontier. But he had made not one preparation 
to realise these dreams. When the war closed so sud- 
denly he was soon to learn that he counted for nothing 
in the settlement which must follow. He was Samson 
shorn of his locks. The Delilah of Berlin was now 
supreme. Delilah's will was law. And that eminent 
personage had resolved that the French Samson should 
speedily learn that intrigue, without force to back it, 
was an impotent factor in the face of a Prussia just 
emerging victorious from a bloody war, and with her 
resources rather improved than impaired. 

For no sooner had the arrangements with Austria and 
the States of Southern Germany been completed, than 
Prussia proceeded to complete the work of incorporation 
within her own dominions of the territories she had won. 
Their resources, their troops, were now hers, and by the 
increased strength which they gave her she was far 
more powerful than was the Prussia which entered upon 
the war of 1866. 

I have said that the position in which Napoleon HI. 
found himself in the autumn of 1866 was especially galling 
to a man whose intrigues for fifteen years had resulted in 
so many brilliant successes. It was soon to become 
positively humiliating. Without at the moment the 
power to enforce his demands he continued to urge 
Prussia, as a compensation for her own increase of 
territory, to make to France some concessions — at the 
expense of Germany or of Belgium. Nothing could have 
better served the purposes of Bismarck than the making 
of these demands. That eminent statesman had had some 

Fatal Effect to France of Napoleons Intrigues. 197 

difficulty in persuading Bavaria and the other States 
similarly situated to agree to certain territorial arrange- 
ments which Prussia regarded as essential. When their 
resistance was at its greatest Bismarck received the pro- 
position from the French Emperor, presently to be more 
completely described, to concede to France some portions 
of Bavarian territory. Instantly German pride took fire. 
Not only did the minor States drop all their objections, 
but by a series of secret treaties they entered into an 
offensive and defensive alliance with Prussia, and engaged 
to place their entire forces at the disposal of the King 
in the event of a war with France. Thus the union 
of Germany, not consummated by the actual war, was 
brought about by the intrigues of Napoleon III. 

A greater fault it was impossible for any ruler of 
France to commit. But it was by no means a solitary 
mistake. Napoleon's negotiations regarding the cession of 
Belgium to France had in the times preceding the war 
been carried on by conversations, which it was possible 
to deny, with Bismarck himself, or through secret and 
unauthorised agents who could be disavowed. But the 
disappointment engendered by the result of the war of 
1866 led the Emperor to bolder and more compromising 
measures. The French Ambassador at the court of 
Berlin had been, since November 1864, Count Vincent 
Benedetti, the able representative of a Corsican family. 
In his intrigues regarding cessions of territory Napoleon 
III. had, up to the time of the conclusion of the war of 
1866, gone behind the back of Benedetti. So ignorant 
was that minister of those intrigues that, just before the 
outbreak of the war, he had reported to his master the 
details of a conversation he had held with Bismarck, to 
the effect that Count Bismarck, to assure himself of 
French neutrality, though he would rather retire from 

1 98 Napoleon keeps His Minister in the Dark. 

public life than cede the Rhenish frontier, had declared 
that he believed it might be possible to obtain the King's 
sanction to the cession of the district of Treves, which, 
with Luxemburg and parts of Belgium or Switzerland, 
would give France such an improved frontier as would 
satisfy her. But Benedetti added that Bismarck was the 
only man in Prussia who would willingly make any 
cession of territory whatever, and that the public demand 
for any such cession on the part of France would rouse a 
general feeling of indignation against her. The absolute 
ignorance of the French ambassador of the plottings of 
his master is proved by the fact that he concluded his 
despatch by stating that he had abruptly closed the 
discussion, not wishing to leave on the mind of Count 
Bismarck the impression that any scheme involving the 
cession of Belgian or Swiss territory would be counten- 
anced at Paris. 

The war then broke out. Almost immediately on its 
conclusion, whilst the late combatants were negotiating at 
Nikolsburg and Prague, Benedetti, obeying his master's 
orders, demanded the cession of the Bavarian Palatinate, 
of the portion of Hesse-Darmstadt west of the Rhine, 
including Mayence, and of the strip of Prussian terri- 
tory on the Saar which had been taken from France in 
181 5. According to Bismarck, Benedetti supported this 
demand with a threat of war in case it should be re- 
fused, but this is most improbable. There can be no 
doubt, however^ that Bismarck categorically refused the 
demand. Benedetti then started for Paris to report in per- 
son the result of his conversation. His return produced 
a ministerial crisis. The minister for foreign affairs, 
Drouyn de Lhuys, had been of opinion that the dignity 
of France required that such a demand, if made, should 
be supported by arms. As the Emperor, however, could 

Proposals of Napoleon to Bismarck. 199 

not bring himself to declare war for a purpose which 
would expose him to the denunciation of Europe, Drouyn 
de Lhuys resigned, and Napoleon III. bade Benedetti to 
return to Berlin, and endeavour to obtain, in the place of 
the frontier on the Rhine, the cession of Belgium. Of the 
circumstances which followed his return the following 
account will, I believe, bear investigation. 

Englishmen who took a deep interest in the outbreak 
in 1870 of the war between France and Germany will 
not fail to remember that, in the July of that year, Bis- 
marck endeavoured to gain the sympathies of Europe by 
publishing, amongst many other matters, an account of 
a proposal made to him in the autumn of 1866 by Count 
Benedetti, on behalf of the French Emperor, to obtain 
the sanction of Prussia for the incorporation of Belgium 
with France. Bismarck supported his statement by a 
draft treaty, in the handwriting of Benedetti, which con- 
tained (1) the recognition by France of the conquests 
made by Prussia during the war ; (2) the promise of the 
King of Prussia to facilitate the acquisition of Luxem- 
burg by France ; (3) the promise of the Emperor not to 
oppose a Federal union of the Northern and Southern 
States of Germany to the exclusion of Austria ; (4) 
' The King of Prussia, in case the Emperor should 
enter or conquer Belgium, will support him in arms 
against any opposing power'; (5) there should be a 
treaty offensive and defensive between the contracting 

There can be no doubt that such a proposition was 
made by Benedetti ; but there can be as little that the 
circumstances accompanying it were far different from 
those which Bismarck would have had the world believe. 
He had often dangled before the French Emperor the 

' The text of this treaty was published in the Times of July 25, 1S70. 

200 The Wiliness of Bismarck. 

project of the annexation of Belgium. It had been a 
card kept in his sleeve to show but not to play. He had 
shown it at the time of the negotiations of Nikolsburg. 
That he ever intended to play it is quite another matter. 
For some years prior to 1866 he had been accustomed to 
cajole Napoleon, and he believed he could continue to 
cajole him until he should be able to dispense with his 
aid, or be prepared for the action which he even then 
said would be necessary for the complete consolidation 
of Germany. To him, then, the talk about the cession of 
Belgium was an old story. 

It was not so with Benedetti. I have already shown 
that on this point the ambassador had never been ad- 
mitted into the confidence of his master. He knew 
nothing of the hints, the innuendos, the whisperings of 
Biarritz and Paris. He had, we have seen, slighted 
Bismarck's proposal, when, only shortly before, that 
statesman had alluded to the possibility of France in- 
demnifying herself at the expense of Belgium, not wish- 
ing, he said, to leave on the mind of the German 
statesman the impression that the Emperor would even 
listen to such an idea. In this respect his recent visit to 
Paris had undeceived him. He had found his master 
' hungry ' for some sort of compensation, caring not at all 
at whose expense that compensation should be. Doubt- 
less he had repeated to his master the words used by 
Bismarck on the occasion just referred to, and he had 
returned to Berlin with express injunctions to bring 
Bismarck to book on the subject of Belgium. 

At the historical interview, then, Benedetti had begun 
by referring the Prussian foreign minister to the conversa- 
tion previously held, and had added that the Emperor 
his master was prepared to negotiate on the basis which 
had been then suggested by his listener. Bismarck, far 

Benedetti and Bismarck. 201 

from showing surprise or indignation, at once assented 
to the principle, and proceeded to sketch out verbally 
the draft treaty referred to in the preceding page. From 
the dictation of Bismarck Benedetti wrote the draft. 
Further, in his report to his master, Benedetti stated that 
he had found Bismarck keenly anxious to extend the 
federating principle to the German States south of the 
Main, and most anxious for the support of France in 
carrying out the plans he had formed in that respect ; 
that he seemed to be perfectly sincere with regard to 
Belgium. At a later period Benedetti wrote that the 
negotiation only failed because the Emperor required 
that the fortresses in Southern Germany should be held 
by the States to which they belonged. Before that 
point could be settled General Manteuffel, who had 
been despatched to St Petersburg to negotiate an inti- 
mate union with Russia, returned with the treaty between 
the two powers signed and sealed. Then the assistance 
of France became unnecessary. The negotiation regard- 
ing Belgium was dropped, and the French Emperor was 
relegated, in the mind of Bismarck, to the position of 
a sucked out orange. 

The enemies of the Emperor Napoleon III., in France, 
have said, and said truly, that ' every error which it was 
possible to commit had been committed, in 1866, by that 
prince.' He was now to reap the fruits of his miscalcula- 
tions and his intrigues. It is certain that towards the close 
of the year 1866 his eyes were opened to the fact that 
from the first to the last Bismarck had fooled him. He 
had been beaten at every point. He had previously assisted 
to build a united Italy to the south-east of France. Now 
against his interests, against his most cherished wishes, he 
had assisted in forming a united Germany on his north- 
cast frontier. Nor had his humiliations ended there. The 

202 Deterioration of Napoleon III. 

termination of the civil war in America had brought him 
a summons from the United States government, courteous, 
it is true, but still a summons, to withdraw his troops from 
Mexico. The latest moment to which he could defer act- 
ing on the mandate of the United States was the spring 
of 1867. Doubtless the bringing back to France of 25,000 
trained troops was in itself an advantage, but it was a 
humiliation to move them at the dictation of a foreign 
power. Napoleon had to forfeit the word he had plighted 
to the prince he had induced to proceed on an adventurous 
mission to Mexico. His reputation suffered enormously 
in consequence, and he, who for the first fifteen years of 
his reign had been accepted as the most astute of princes, 
began to be regarded as a vacillating dreamer, without 
honour, and without practical ability. He was growing 
prematurely old, he was suffering from a disease which 
incapacitated him from hard work, and his supporters were 
falling from him. His failures, his loss of prestige, his de- 
clining health were producing an uneasy feeling in the 
country. The Emperor himself began to be anxious as 
to the future of the dynasty of which he had been the 
second founder. To rehabilitate himself and his family in 
the eyes of Frenchmen he must do something. Seeking 
for a sensation, his eyes turned on Luxemburg, a territory 
connected with the crown of Holland, but whose fortress, 
the strongest in Europe, was garrisoned, up to 1 866, as a 
part of the German Federation by Prussian troops. For 
the transfer of this duchy, possessing 998 square miles, 
to France the Emperor entered into negotiations with the 
King of Holland. 

The bargain was struck. Before, however, the transfer 
could take place Bismarck, who had been privy to and 
had not objected to the Emperor's plan, suddenly in- 
formed the Emperor that it could not be. True it was 

Bismarck prevents Acquisition of Lvxeinburg. 203 

that during the negotiations of the previous year he had 
himself suggested the cession of Luxemburg to France. 
True it was that since 1866 Luxemburg had not been in- 
cluded in the North German Federation. But its fortress 
was garrisoned by Prussian soldiers. It could not be 
taken by France until the Prussian garrison should have 
departed. Bismarck was resolved that for the purpose de- 
sired by the Emperor Napoleon they should never depart. 
Accordingly he gave it to be understood at Paris that 
the annexation of Luxemburg to France was impossible. 
And, to give emphasis to his declaration, he published 
about the same time the treaties Prussia had made with 
the Southern States of Germany, treaties which bound 
them to place their armies at the disposal of Prussia in 
the event of a war with France. 

The action of Bismarck in thus denouncing an ar- 
rangement which he himself had in the preceding year 
cordially recommended, and to which he had given his 
private approval, was the first outspoken proof that he 
had broken absolutely with Napoleon IIL He wanted 
nothing more from France. He knew that, in the interests 
of Germany, not yet thoroughly consolidated, it would be 
necessary to have recourse once more, and that within a 
measurable distance, to his favourite nostrum of 'blood 
and iron,' and he regarded the proposed cession of Luxem- 
burg to France as a question which would sufficiently 
excite the German mind to make them regard it as an 
aggression on the part of France at all costs to be repelled. 
France, he was aware, was not ready for war. The 
German army could be mobilised certainly within a fort- 
night. Despite all that he had said, all that he had 
promised, under circumstances which no longer existed, 
was it politic, he asked himself, if it could be prevented, 
to allow a neighbour with whom it was logically certain 

204 Aiistida and Htingary. 

that Germany would within a brief period be at war to 
possess herself of the strongest fortress in Europe, possess- 
ing a strategical position of vital importance, on the 
Franco-German frontier? It was this last consideration 
which decided him to urge his master, who was bound by 
no promises, to refuse the assent of Prussia to the trans- 

It was at this crisis that Austria reappeared on the 
scene. The Emperor Francis Joseph, though terribly 
disappointed at the result of the war which had been 
forced upon him, had on its conclusion wisely resolved 
to put an end to that internal quarrel which at a critical 
period of the war had alienated from him the thorough 
support of his Hungarian subjects. On the 30th of Octo- 
ber 1866, therefore, he had called to the Foreign Office 
Count Beust, formerly minister to the King of SaxOny, 
and had given him carte blancJie to come to an under- 
standing with the Magyars. Beust gave to the task all 
the powers which had given him a European reputation. 
He first made a commercial treaty with France, then 
after discussions with the chiefs of the several parties he 
convoked an extraordinary Diet for the 2d of February 
1867. On the 7th he announced autonomy for Hungary. 
On the 17th the Emperor nominated a separate ministry, 
with Count Andrassy as president for Hungary. All went 
well : the enthusiasm was tremendous, the reconciliation 
perfect. On the 7th of June the Emperor and Empress 
were crowned at Pest King and Queen of Hungary. 

The bases of this reconciliation having been known 
early in the year it can easily be understood why Austria, 
notwithstanding her humiliation in the autumn of 1866, 
should step forward in the spring of 1867, endowed with 
a new life, and assume her proper position in European 
politics. She confined herself to making the practical 

The Luxemburg Question settled. 205 

suggestion that Luxemburg should be united to Belgium, 
and that France should be indemnified by a small district 
of Belgian territory. This was an arrangement which 
would at the same time have satisfied the amour propre of 
France and have been accepted at Berlin. At the critical 
moment, however, the person who would have benefited 
the most from the transaction, the King of the Belgians, 
nipped it in the bud by declaring that he would cede no 
territory to France. Napoleon III., incensed at the 
double dealing of Bismarck, resolved then to take up the 
glove thrown from Berlin, on such grounds as would 
secure for him the sympathy of Europe. There was no 
question but that Prussia had no right to garrison the 
fortress of Luxemburg. The connection of the province 
of that name with Germany had been a matter of past 
history. The great bulk of the people of the province not 
only were not Germans, but they had no sympathy with 
German ways. Hence Napoleon III. was within his right 
when he insisted that the Prussian garrison should eva- 
cuate the fortress (March 1867), and made preparations 
to, enforce his demand. Prussia refused to withdraw her 
troops. Then the government of St Petersburg stepped 
in with a proposal that the question should be settled by 
a conference of the powers at London. This was agreed 
to with certain restrictions by the two powers chiefly 
concerned. The conference assembled at London on 
the 7th of May. On the nth its deliberations were 
completed and an agreement was signed. By this 
Luxemburg was declared neutral territory under the 
guarantee of the powers. Prussia was to withdraw her 
garrison, and the King of Holland undertook to de- 
molish the fortifications of the fortress and to maintain 
it as an open town. These conditions were duly carried 

2o6 Attempts of N'apokon to gain Friends. 

If the result was a slight diplomatic triumph for France, 
and in a military sense a real gain — for it deprived 
Prussia of a fortress which in the event of a war with 
France she might have utilised with great effect — yet 
it made clear to the mind of Napoleon III., perhaps 
for the first time, the extent to which Bismarck had fooled 
him. No man likes to be duped, and there are few 
who would not have displayed a sense of annoyance more 
openly than did the French Emperor. But, with a great 
many faults, Napoleon possessed the gift of reticence, 
and from this time forward he set himself to the task of 
building up alliances which would help France in the 
future. It was for this object that in August of the same 
year, accompanied by the Empress, he met the Emperor 
and Empress of Austria at Salzburg, and in November 
received the same Emperor at the Tuileries. At the 
same palace the Austrian ambassador, Prince Metternich, 
became a persona gratissima. He threw himself heart 
and soul into the French project. The wish of France and 
Austria was to regain for the latter her position in 
Germany. The one obstacle in the way of this policy 
was the resistance of the Hungarian ministry. It was 
because Austria had ceased to be, in the sense attribut- 
able to the term, a German power, that Hungary had 
obtained an equal position in the counsels of the empire, 
and she had neither interest nor inclination to recover 
for the joint Empire a position which would not 
fail to diminish her own influence. Yet, notwithstand- 
ing this, the intimacy between the emperors and their 
ministers became more and more consolidated, and re- 
sulted in mutual promises of support in the event of war 
with Prussia. So intimate indeed did the relations become 
that in the winter of 1870 the Archduke Albert, the 
victor of Custoza, visited Paris, and a French general 

The French Emperor s Policy regarding Rome. 207 

visited Vienna for the purpose of arranging a plan of 
campaign in the event of war. 

Nor was Napoleon III. less intent upon gaining Italy. 
But for the unauthorised attempt of Garibaldi to seize 
Rome in November 1867 it is probable that a clear 
understanding between the rulers might have been 
arrived at. But the battle of Mentana, the insolent 
language of the very worst of the Napoleonic generals, 
Du Failly, the declarations of M. Rouher in the French 
Assembly, and the French reoccupation of Rome, pro- 
duced a coolness which long prevented a cordial under- 
standing. Eventually, however, the Austrian minister, 
Count Beust, intervened, and through him an arrangement 
was arrived at, of which the French Emperor was cog- 
nisant, to the effect that, in the event of war between 
France and Prussia, Austria and Italy should act together 

It will thus be seen that when the year 1870 dawned 
France had still but shadowy alliances to depend upon. 
Her continued occupation of Rome prevented, and would 
always prevent an offensive and defensive alliance with 
Italy, whilst the opposition of Hungary would operate 
equally to deter the Austrian Empire from undertaking 
a war for the obtaining of objects to which Hungary was 
opposed. The position of France may fairly be described 
as a position of isolation, supported only by the good 
wishes of the Emperor of Austria and his court and of 
the King of Italy. 

Meanwhile Bismarck had been engaged in strengthen- 
ing the position his policy had gained for Prussia in 1866. 
In the three-and-a-half years which had elapsed since the 
war he had established a customs parliament for all 
Germany, the precursor he hoped of a National Assembly 
representing the States to the south as well as those 

2o8 A shite Policy of Bismarck. 

to the north of the Main. He had assimilated the 
mih'tary systems of Bavaria, Saxony, Wiirtemberg, and 
Baden to the system of Prussia. His eminent colleague, 
the war minister Von Roon, had brought to the organising 
of the new German army all the talent which had made 
the Prussian army the most formidable in Europe. The 
defects which the campaign of 1866 had made apparent 
had been remedied ; new weapons, improvements on the 
needle-gun, had been introduced into the armies of the 
several States, and, above all. Von Roon had devoted his 
earnest attention to ensure rapidity of mobilising. In a 
contest with France the greatest advantage would accrue 
to the nation whose army should be first in the field. The 
direction of the State railway system had been governed 
by the necessity of quick concentration on points deemed 
to be formidable close to the French frontier. By the 
beginning of 1870 Germany was as ready for immediate 
war as she was likely to be for a long time to come. 

In some respects, it must be borne in mind, war had 
become almost a necessity, certahily very desirable, to 
ensure the perfect union of Germany. The assimilations 
to which I have referred had not been accomplished with- 
out considerable friction. The secondary States had not 
become reconciled to the system of 'climbing down' in 
favour of Prussia, of adopting habits till then foreign to 
them, of coalescing completely with the people they had 
fought in 1866, to the sole advantage, it seemed to them, 
of the rulers of that people. They had not yet thoroughly 
realised that their interests and the interests of Prussia 
were absolutely identical. It was felt at Berlin that war 
and only war could remove this feeling : a war for the 
same interest, against a common enemy, waged, the 
Berlin clique would take care to impress upon the world, 
for the defence of the threatened Fatherland. Such a 

Relative Positions of France and Germany. 209 

war would obliterate all the petty feelings which com- 
bined to produce friction, would rennove all jealousies, 
would, if successful, give to every German State a 
common renown, and by the introduction of a union 
complete in name as well as in fact, would satisfy those 
sentimental aspirations which since 1848 had animated 
every German heart. 

Of the ruler of Prussia, King William, I do not speak. 
He, I believe, was a thoroughly honest man. He would 
never knowingly have countenanced intrigue. But, in 
the hands of the clique, of which Bismarck, Von Roon, 
and Moltke were the ruling spirits, the king had no 
chance. He had to be ' managed.' The mode in which 
he was made to believe that it was the ambition of 
France, rather than the determination of the ' clique,' 
which brought about the war of 1870, has now to be 

Despite the checks he had received since 1866, Na- 
poleon HI. still continued to assert, as though it were 
a power not to be questioned, the prestige of France. It 
seemed to him the one chance of maintaining his position. 
He had become very anxious regarding the future of the 
dynasty he had founded. It had been impossible to con- 
ceal from the quick-witted people over whom he ruled 
the nature and extent of his diplomatic failures. The 
United States and Prussia had alike forced him to cat the 
leek, and neither he nor France had digested the food. 
He was, I must repeat, prematurely old ; was suffering 
from a painful disease, and had long ceased to take 
that personal interest in the details of State affairs, 
which had been conspicuous in the earlier days of his 
reign. In the general elections of May 1869 Paris, 
Lyons, Marseilles, and other large centres of industry 
had declared with no uncertain voice against his system 


2 1 o The Plebiscite. 

of personal government In the new parliament of May 
1869 the various elements which, on a crisis would vote 
together, constituted an actual majority. Before the 
formidable array of eminent statesmen who led the 
various sections of this coalition Napoleon III. gave way. 
On the 17th of July he modified, in a constitutional sense, 
the principle upon which his cabinets had theretofore 
been formed. In August and September, in concert with 
the Senate, he introduced the principle of ministerial 
responsiblity. In his speech from the throne on the 
29th of November following, he declared himself in 
favour of liberty, but of liberty based on order ; and on 
the 27th of December he appointed his first constitutional 
ministry, with a leader of one of the liberal parties, Emil 
Ollivier, at its head. On the 28th of March 1870, the 
new ministry laid before the Senate its scheme for a new 
constitution, to be submitted eventually to the entire 
nation for sanction. On the 20th of April the constitution 
was agreed to by the Senate, and on the 8th of May 
following, the people of France were asked to record their 
votes for or against the new constitution and the liberal 
reforms instituted since i860. The voting was very 
decisive in favour of the new measures, 7,350,142 record- 
ing their assents, and only 1,538,825 dissenting. But the 
secret gratification of the Emperor was short-lived. When 
the votes were analysed, it was discovered that more than 
50,000 soldiers and sailors had voted against the scheme. 
The effect of this discovery was to renew in the mind 
of the Emperor all his mistrusts, and to incline him once 
again to a policy of adventure. 

No long time passed before an opportunity occurred, 
as he believed, for asserting the prestige of France and 
gaining a diplomatic victory. For nearly two years the 
virtual dictator of Spain, General Prim, had been en- 

The Hohenzollern Candidature. 2 1 1 

deavouring to persuade a member of one of the great 
families of Europe to accept the throne vacated by the 
departure from the country of Isabella II. He had en- 
countered refusal after refusal. In the summer of 1869 he 
had sounded a member of the Sigmaringen branch of the 
Hohenzollern family, Prince Leopold, brother of the present 
King of Roumania, on the subject. It may be said in 
passing, that, in opening this negotiation, Prim had no 
desire to offer an insult to France ; for although Prince 
Leopold bore the name of Hohenzollern, the connec- 
tion with the ruler of Prussia dated very far back, whilst 
he was more recently related through the Beauharnais 
family with Napoleon III. On the other hand, it must be 
admitted, the friendship of the Sigmaringen branch with 
the ruling family of Prussia was intimate ; the prince's 
father had been the first prime minister to King William ; 
and it was he, it is believed, who first suggested to the 
king the appointment of Bismarck to the post of prime 

The overtures of General Prim in 1869, secret as 
they were, very soon reached the ears of the French 
Emperor, and Benedetti was instructed in the summer 
of 1869 to inquire at Berlin as to their existence. The 
reply of Count Bismarck, given on his word of honour, 
was that the candidature had never been suggested at 
Berlin. This reply was considered satisfactory, and the 
project remaining for twelve months undiscussed was re- 
g-arded as abandoned. 

However, in the spring of 1870, it was again renewed, 
secretly as before, but so effectually, that on the 3rd of 
July, Paris was startled by the announcement that Prince 
Leopold of Hohenzollern -Sigmaringen had agreed to 
accept the vacant throne of Spain, provided the Cortes 
should confirm his election thereto. Naturally enough, 

2 1 2 The Hohenzollern Candidature. 

a storm of indignation broke out in Paris. The popular 
mind, sufficiently excited against Prussia by the manner 
in which, since 1866, she had persistently thwarted the 
attempts of French statesmen, eagerly seized the occasion 
to declaim against the new effort of her neighbour to 
plant an enemy on the throne of a country peopled by 
men of the Latin race. The Government, guided by the 
foreign minister, the Duke of Gramont, fresh from his em- 
bassy to Vienna, radiant with the hopes there conceived 
of a firm alliance between France and Austria, declared 
to the legislative body, on the 6th of July, that the 
attempt of a foreign power to place one of its princes 
on the throne of Charles V. imperilled the interests and 
the honour of France. This imprudent declaration, which 
had been drawn up at a council of ministers presided 
over by the Emperor, rendered the maintenance of peace 
difficult. It was calculated to inflame alike the two 
nations, and to render it difficult for the King of Prussia 
to recede. The one chance of avoiding war was to induce 
Prince Leopold to resign. 

That Napoleon IIL wanted war is not for a moment 
to be supposed ; but, for reasons presently to be assigned, 
he was in a state of mind which might easily cause him 
to drift into it. It is difficult to suppose that he could 
have been altogether deceived as to the readiness of the 
Prussian army for war, the state of unpreparedness of his 
own. As proof of the former, he had before him the 
reports of the French military attache at Berlin, Colonel 
Stoffel. Of the latter there was abundant evidence at 
hand, if he had chosen to search for it. But, for some 
time past, the Emperor had ceased, as I have said, to 
take personal interest in the details of the several offices 
of State. He appointed officers whom he thought he could 
trust, and he believed whatever they chose to report to 

Marshal Leboeuf. 2 1 3 

him. His war-minister, Marshal Leboeuf, was a man who 
especially enjoyed his confidence. Only one year younger 
than his master, Leboeuf had the reputation of being an 
excellent officer. After two years' service on the general 
staff, he had been appointed in 1832 to the artillery ; had 
served on the general staff in the first expedition against 
Constantine (1837), and had remained in Africa till 1841 ; 
had then served in France in responsible positions until, 
in 1852, he was promoted to be Colonel. He had served 
with distinction in the Crimean war, first as Chief of the 
Staff of the artillery, then as Brigadier-General command- 
ing the artillery before Sebastopol. At the close of the 
war he was nominated chief of the artillery of the Guards, 
with the rank of general of division. At Solferino he 
commanded the artillery, and it was his skilful attack 
on the Austrian centre which decided the day. In 
September 1866, he had been employed by his master 
to hand over Venetia to the Italian plenipotentiaries. 
In January 1869, he had been nominated commander 
of the 1st army corps, then having its headquarters at 
Toulouse ; and, on the death of Marshal Niel the follow- 
ing August, had accepted the portfolio of war-minister. 
He had thus a good record, and a considerable reputa- 
tion. But history is full of examples of the manner in 
which great reputations wither when tested by the neces- 
sity of action. In the council of ministers of the 6th of 
July above referred to, Leboeuf had solemnly declared 
that the French army, whether as regarded its numbers, 
its arms, its organisation, and its supplies, was ready 
for war. The contrary was the truth, and no one ought 
to have known it better than Leboeuf^ 

' ' He was neither a great organiser nor a strategist, but had ever shown 
himself to be an energetic corpscommander and a brave soldier.' Brockhaus, 
Conversations- Lexikon, Vol. IX. 

2 1 4 The Duke of Gramont. 

If Leboeuf was regarded as the hand of the French 
ministry, the Duke of Gramont, at this crisis, was its head. 
The prime minister, Olh'vier, had allowed himself to be 
seduced, against his better judgment, by the assurances of 
the one and the confidence of the other. Gramont was 
all for war. He believed that at the first success of the 
French arms Austria would strike to recover her lost 
ascendency in Germany. Napoleon, personally averse to 
war, was yet anxious regarding his dynasty. A pusillani- 
mous policy, he felt, would endanger the succession of 
his son. War might regain for him his vanished popu- 
larity, might recover for him the prestige lost in 1865-6. 
He was himself, he thoroughly well knew, unfit to com- 
mand an army, but he had in Bazaine a general tried in 
war, capable, he believed, of rivalling the famous strate- 
gists of Germany. Possibly to his enfeebled mind war 
presented better chances for the future than did peace, 
especially peace without honour. The French people, 
especially the mob of Paris, were strongly in favour 
of war. 

If such was the position in Paris in the early days of 
July 1870, what was it at Berlin? That is a matter which 
well deserves the consideration which I am about to 
bestow upon it. 

There were three men in the Prussian capital who 
knew that war with France, sooner or later, was inevit- 
able ; who knew that a successful war would cement 
the union with the south which the Austrian war had 
begun ; who knew that no better occasion for war, pro- 
vided France could be induced to declare it, would be 
likely to arise than that provoked by the Hohenzollern 
candidature ; who knew that, whilst Germany was ready, 
PVance was unprepared ; who possessed the means, if 
PVance should hesitate, of lashing the French people to 

The Machinatio7is at Berlin. 215 

fury and of exciting the German people to indignation ; 
the means, also, of securing the sympathy of Europe — at 
least for the moment. These three men possessed the 
power to control the situation, for whilst one. Von Roon, 
had trained the army, another, Moltke, had complete 
mastery over the military situation ; the third, Count 
Bismarck, the author of the war of 1866, had resolved 
to complete the work then achieved by a final demonstra- 
tion of the efficacy of ' Blood and Iron ' to solve political 
differences. Their one difficulty lay with the King. 
William I. was too honest, too upright, to sanction 
measures which could not bear the light of day. But 
William had been imbued with a thorough distrust of 
Napoleonic aims and Napoleonic policy, and a means 
might, through that channel, be found of ' managing ' 

Such being the situations at Paris and Berlin, it re- 
mains for us to record the events as they followed. 

We have seen how the French minister for foreign 
affairs, the Duke of Gramont, an ardent partisan for war 
with Prussia, had obtained the control of the French 
cabinet. On the night of the 6th of July he had de- 
spatched directions to Benedetti, still representing France 
at Berlin, to proceed at once to Ems, where the King was 
taking the waters, and to demand that, as the only means 
of averting war, he should direct Prince Leopold to revoke 
his acceptance of the Spanish crown ; further, that he, 
the King, should give an assurance that the candidature 
should not be renewed. Benedetti obeyed, saw the King 
on the 9th, represented to him the excitement which the 
news of Prince Leopold's acceptance had caused in Paris, 
the consequent danger of the situation, the advantage of 
the continuance of peace between the two countries, the 
impossibility of maintaining it if the candidature were 

2 1 6 Benedetti at Ems. 

maintained. He concluded by explaining, in a manner 
at once courteous and deferential, the requirements of his 
cabinet. The King, who had received from Berlin an 
intimation of the demands which Benedetti would make, 
and who was probably really concerned at the results 
which had followed Prince Leopold's acceptance of the 
Spanish crown, had, before the interview, taken such 
measures as he thought would ensure that prince's 
renunciation, and, with it, the maintenance of peace. 
He was able, therefore, whilst asserting his position as 
the Head of the Hohenzollern family, to assure the 
French ambassador that he had already entered into 
negotiations with Prince Leopold and his father, and 
that he expected shortly to receive a favourable reply 
from Sigmaringen. Had the matter rested with Benedetti, 
the incident would have been practically at an end. The 
ambassador recognised that the King had made a serious 
and spontaneous effort to avoid war. In reporting the 
details of the interview to Gramont, he laid stress on this 
point, and suggested that a display of a little moderation 
on both sides would gain for France a diplomatic triumph 
without the dangers of war. 

This despatch produced in the highest circles in Paris 
a revulsion in favour of peace. Napoleon HI., never an 
earnest advocate for war, now openly joined the party 
which was struggling for peace. On the nth there was 
a pause in the military preparations. Gramont, however, 
still maintained his warlike attitude. He replied to 
Benedetti's despatch in the spirit of a madman. And 
although, on the 12th, it became known in Paris that a 
telegram from Prince Leopold's father had been received 
at Madrid, withdrawing the prince's candidature, Gramont 
took advantage of it only to press upon his ambassador 
the obtaining from the Prussian King guarantees against 

The Machinations of Bismarck. 217 

its renewal. But, except by Gramont and the few 
extremists, peace was regarded as assured. The prime 
minister, OlHvier, announced to the Legislative Chamber 
the withdrawal of Prince Leopold's candidature, and con- 
gratulations were exchanged on all sides. But Gramont 
was apparently resolved to force on war. In an interview 
with the Prussian ambassador at Paris, Baron Werther, 
he sketched a letter which he proposed King William 
should write to the Emperor. In this the King was 
to state that, in sanctioning the candidature of Prince 
Leopold, he had meant no offence to the French nation, 
and that in associating himself with the withdrawal of 
that candidature, he desired that all misunderstandings 
between the two governments should cease. Baron 
Werther promptly despatched this proposition to 

This despatch placed in the hands of the war party at 
Berlin the weapon it required. To them it was a power 
to influence and control the King. On the morning on 
which it reached Ems, Benedetti, before its arrival, had 
seen the King, and had received from him a promise, that 
as soon as the expected letter from Sigmaringen should 
reach his hand, he would send for him. A little later 
arrived the express from Baron Werther with Bismarck's 
comments thereupon. Its contents deeply offended the 
King. So much so, indeed, that when an hour later, the 
letter from Sigmaringen arrived, he contented himself 
with sending an aide-de-camp to Benedetti with a message, 
to the effect that a letter had been received from Prince 
Anthony withdrawing his son's acceptance, and that the 
matter was at an end. Benedetti requested the aide-de- 
camp to inform the King that his instructions compelled 
him to ask for a guarantee against the renewal of the 
candidature. The aide-de-camp delivered the message, 

2 1 8 The Hohenzollern Candidature withdrawn. 

and returned with the answer that the King gave his 
entire approval to the withdrawal of the candidature, but 
that he could do no more. Benedetti then begged for an 
audience. The King replied, that as he had said his last 
word an audience was useless. The negotiations be- 
tween the King and the ambassador were conducted with 
the most perfect courtesy, and the following morning the 
two exalted personages took leave of one another at 
the railway station with the usual marks of respect.' 

Still peace was possible. The peace-party at Paris 
was gaining ground. The King of Prussia had indeed 
declined to give the guarantee demanded by Gramont, or 
to sign the letter which that nobleman had dictated, but 
the withdrawal of the candidature had been absolute. 
From the transaction the French had obtained all the 
glory. They had won a diplomatic triumph. Had the 
matter rested there, the Hohenzollern candidature would 
have caused no war. This was felt alike at Paris and at 
Berlin. If nothing had emanated from Berlin, the war 
party in Paris must have succumbed. There was no 
material left whence to evoke a war-cry. France had 
demanded the withdrawal of the Hohenzollern candidate, 
and the Hohenzollern candidate had been withdrawn. 
There was surely nothing left to fight for. 

If this fact was patent to the thoughtful politicians of 
Paris, still more evident was it to the triumvirate at 
Berlin. There was, then, they felt, to be no war. The 
opportunity was slipping from their hands. Unless they 
could do something to rouse to passion-heat the subsid- 
ing excitement of the Parisian mob, the chance was gone 
never, under such favourable circumstances to return. 

' The third volume of that painstaking and brilliant work, the History 
of Modern Europe, by the late Mr Fyffe, contains full and accurate particulars 
of the events which preceded the war of 1870- 1. 

Bismarck applies the Match to the Flame. 2 1 9 

But the brain of the statesman who had annexed 
Hanover and driven Austria out of Germany was equal 
to the occasion. A few hours later a telegram was 
officially published at Berlin, stating, in such terms as to 
convey the impression that the French ambassador had 
rudely attempted to force his presence on the King, that 
the latter had thereupon refused to receive the ambassa- 
dor, and had informed him by an aide-de-camp that 
he had nothing more to communicate to him. This 
telegram was sent to the representatives of Prussia 
at most of the European courts, and to her agents in 
every German capital. Inspired paragraphs, stating in 
broader language the same facts in an exaggerated form, 
appeared in all the important German newspapers, and 
were despatched to the Paris papers by their corre- 
spondents. It was circumstantially stated in these that 
Benedetti had forced himself on the King on the 
promenade at Ems, and that, in the presence of a large 
company, the King of Prussia had turned his back on the 
French ambassador. The authors of these paragraphs 
thoroughly understood the peoples they were really 
addressing. To the German people it meant that the 
French ambassador had insulted the Prussian King ; to 
the French, that the Prussian King had deliberately 
insulted France in the person of her ambassador. 

In France, which Bismarck had gauged to the core, 
these demi-official paragraphs were as the application of 
a match to gunpowder. It was neither the vapourings of 
Gramont, the waverings of the Emperor, nor the per- 
suasive powers of the Empress, which caused the war of 
1870 ; it was the paragraphs dictated at the Foreign 
office of Berlin. The effect they produced in Paris was 
precisely the effect which their author intended they 
should produce. They reached the French capital on the 

2 20 Effect in Paris of the Concocted Stories. 

14th. On that day the Cabinet met, for the first time, at 
eleven o'clock, before the fictions manufactured at Berlin 
had arrived. At that Council the peace-party, prominent 
among the members of which was the Emperor, had a 
decided majority. But when the midday post came in, 
bringing the manufactured stories of the insult offered to 
the French ambassador at Ems, there occurred, as the 
astute wire-puller at Berlin had calculated, a complete 
revulsion. For the second time that day the Cabinet met, 
and at this, though the Emperor still declared for peace, 
great agitation prevailed. It broke up, having decided 
only to call out the reserves. But, upon the excitable 
population of Paris, the story of the insult had a deeper 
and wider-reaching effect. Crowds assembled in all the 
public places ; strong bodies of men paraded the streets, 
calling out for revenge, and for a march on Berlin. It 
was partly to the influence of those demonstrations, ever 
increasing in number and turbulence, partly to the earnest 
solicitations of many of those about him, that the Em- 
peror at last give way. Shortly before midnight a third 
Cabinet Council met, and at that it was resolved to 
declare war. 

The reader will not fail to note, that the immediate 
cause of the Franco- German war of 1870, was the con- 
cocted story of the insults which had not been offered to 
the French ambassador at Ems ; and that that story 
was manufactured at Berlin for the purpose of exciting 
France to war. 

The next day the Prime Minister, Ollivier, announced 
to the Assembly that France had declared war against 
Prussia, and demanded supplies for carrying it on. The 
Assembly contained a large number of sensible men, 
many of them, like M. Thiers, life-long opponents of the 
Empire. Yet it was soon seen that the madness which 

Paris insists on War. 2 2 1 

had seized the people in the streets had infected also the 
legislators. Not one voice was raised against the war 
because it was, in itself, unjust. Thiers simply objected 
to it as inopportune, and declared the occasion badly 
chosen. Of all the members only ten voted against the 
granting of the supplies. 

The Prime Minister, Ollivier, carried away either by the 
popular enthusiasm, or by the conviction that further re- 
sistance to the cry for war was impossible, declared that 
he entered on the war with a light heart,i whilst the War 
Minister, Lebceuf, when asked if the army was ready for 
war, replied gaily that not even a button was wanting to 
the men's gaiters. 

But war has been declared. In the next chapter we 
shall consider the number of the combatants on both 
sides, their resources, their leaders, and their modes of 

^'They' (Ollivier and many of his colleagues) 'discovered when it was 
too late that the supposed national impulse which they had thought irresistible 
was but the outcry of a noisy minority. The reports of their own officers 
informed them that in sixteen alone of the eighty-seven departments of 
France was the war popular. In the other seventy-one it was accepted with 
hesitation or regret.' (FyfTe, Vol. III. page 421.) 



At midnight, on the 14th of July, France had resolved 
on war with Prussia. On the morning of the 15th, the 
order was issued for the mobilisation of her forces, and for 
their concentration on the Prussian frontier. 

The French field army, called at the outset the ' Army 
of the Rhine,' consisted nominally of 336,000 men with 
924 guns. It was considered that, of these, 300,000 would 
be available for the initial operations.^ The infantry of 
the army was provided with a breach-loading weapon, 
called after its inventor the Chassepot. The Chassepot 
was a weapon in all respects superior to the famous 
needle-gun, which was still the weapon of the Prussian 
army. Attached likewise to the divisional artillery was 
a machine gun called the Mitrailleuse, from which great 
things were expected. But this gun had been manufac- 
tured with a secrecy which, whilst it prevented foreign 
inspection, had withheld also the knowledge of its 
mechanism from the soldiers who were to work it. In 
the field, therefore, it proved a failure. 

Since the Crimean and Austrian wars, whilst the 
armies of the other European States had advanced in 

1 The actual number reached only 250,000. 

Deterioration of the French Army. 223 

efficiency, the French army had deteriorated. The 
reason was that favouritism rather than merit had been 
made the road to court favour. The officers who had 
pointed to the training of the Prussian soldiers, as indi- 
cating the necessity for the adoption of similar modes 
for the French army, had been laughed at and left in the 
cold. The consequence was, that for ten years prior to 
the war of 1870, the French army had received instruction 
only of the most superficial character. It had been con- 
sidered sufficient if the soldiers were brought to the point 
of making a good show on the parade ground. Little 
more had been required of them. Field training and 
musketry training had been alike neglected. The officers 
had ceased to study, and the Government had taken no 
pains to instruct them. What was more vicious still, the 
alienation between officers and men, which had been 
noticed even in the war of 1859, had widened. The 
officers generally had ceased to take the smallest interest 
in the comfort of the men in camp or in quarters. These 
matters were left to the non - commissioned officers. 
Needless to add, they were not always properly attended 
to. The consequences are thus stated by an English 
critic, from whose exhaustive work I shall be obliged often 
to quote :^ 'Save in the guard and Algerian regiments 
alone the commissioned ranks had but little knowledge of 
or sympathy with the privates, the privates little respect 
or affection for their officers.' It may be added, that the 
system of drill was so devised as to give no play to the 
reasoning powers of the officer. He was a machine and 
nothing more. 

Other causes had combined with those mentioned to 
weaken the morale and power of endurance of the French 

' The Battle of Spicheren, by Brevet-Major C. F. R. Henderson. (Gale 
& Polden's Military Series.) Gale & Polden, London and Chatham. 

2 24 Deterioration of the French Army. 

soldier. Amongst these may be mentioned the origin of 
the second Empire. The reviews in the plains of Satory 
in 1 8 50- 1, when the soldiers were regaled with 'sausages 
and champagne/ the attempts made to debauch the 
officers, the subservience displayed by the Emperor to 
the men, whom he regarded as the basis upon which his 
authority rested, his constant endeavour to make them 
comfortable rather than efficient, had led to a feeling of 
contempt for a Government which seemed afraid to 
command. Then, again, the service in Algeria had, with 
its wild licence, tended to relax the bonds of discipline ; 
whilst the fatal Mexican expedition, far from having upon 
the men the hardening effect which service in India has 
upon the British and Irish soldier, had made the French 
soldiers more exacting than those who had gone before 
them. ' A roof,' writes Henderson, ' had come to be con- 
sidered an absolute necessity.' Thus it came about that, 
' in the midst of summer and a thinly-populated country, 
the men of the army of the Rhine were encumbered with 
the useless addition of their canvas shelters.' ^ 

Nor were the abilities of the leaders of the French 
army sufficiently marked to compensate for the de- 
ficiencies of the troops. Napoleon III. himself had, we 
repeat, convinced himself in the campaign of 1859, the 
only campaign in which he had led an army into the 
field, that he had not been gifted with the qualities 
requisite for the successful command of an army. 
Marshal Bazaine, who, in the opinion of the Emperor, 
possessed the qualities in which he was deficient, had 
for two years commanded the small army which had 
waged war in Mexico, but he had given there no proof 
of extraordinary capacity. His early service, from 1833 
to 1849, in Algeria, passed mainly in the administration 

' Henderson's Spicheren. 







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Bazaine and IVrMahoii. 225 

departments, had procured for him the character of being 
a clever intriguer, a match even for the Arabs on 
ground of their own selection, rather than of a brilliant 
officer. From 1850 until the breaking out of the 
Crimean war, he commanded a regiment in Africa. In 
that war he served as Brigadier-General until, on the 
22nd of September, 1855, he was promoted to the 
command of a division. Appointed, after the war, to 
be Inspector, he gained a considerable acquaintance with 
the characters of the leading officers of the army. In 
the war of 1859 he again commanded a division, and 
distinguished himself greatly at the decisive storming of 
the churchyard of Solferino. In 1862 he accompanied 
the French expeditionary army to Mexico, first as com- 
mander of a division under General Forey, afterwards 
as commander of the entire force. His greatest merit 
in this command lay in the fact that he was able to 
bring back his army, almost intact, to France. It will 
be seen that no solid public grounds existed for attribut- 
ing to Marshal Bazaine the qualities of a great leader ; 
and although the Emperor believed that he possessed 
such qualities, it is more than probable that his belief 
was influenced largely by the knowledge of Bazaine's 
unalterable devotion to his dynasty. 

Next to Bazaine, in the opinion of the Emperor, 
before him in the opinion of Europe, stood Marshal 
M'Mahon, Duke of Magenta. His flank march on 
the 4th of June 1859 had combined, with the extra- 
ordinary inactivity of the Austrian commander. Count 
Giulay, to save the French army from defeat, and the 
French Emperor from capture, on that eventful day. 
That one exploit had given him a great reputation in 
France, but there is no ground for supposing that he 
was more than a brave commander, not to be intimidated 


2 26 Canrobe7't, Ledceuf, De Failly. 

by responsibility, yet unequal to the task of planning 
and directing a campaign. Still, when the war broke 
out, he was probably the best commander in the higher 
ranks of the French army. 

It is unnecessary to say much about Marshal Can- 
robert, for the Crimean war gave our countrymen and 
the world an opportunity of judging the fitness of this 
brave soldier to command in chief. Of the other 
marshal, Leboeuf, I have already spoken. Of another 
general, high in favour at court, and whose operations 
were destined to exercise a fatal influence on the early 
stages of the campaign. General de Failly, it is only 
necessary to state, that, though wanting neither in 
ability nor courage, his moral nature had become so 
enfeebled that, for the purposes of war, he had become 
worse than incapable. General Frossard, on the other 
hand, who commanded the 2d army corps, was an 
accomplished officer. But even he was not equal to 
critical occasions. 

Of the artillery of the French army it has to be 
said, that it was far inferior to that of the Germans, and 
known to be so by the French war department. In the 
matter of reserves, France had comparatively nothing.^ 

Far different were the composition and the state of 
preparation of the Prussian army ; far different, also, 
those of her German allies ; far higher the qualities of 
their general officers ; far superior the discipline and 
morale of their troops ; far more ready, in every single 

1 ' In the gigantic reserves of Prussia, Napoleon recognised an element 
of strength for which France had no equivalent. With the help of Marshal 
Niel, his most capable adviser, an act was passed for the formation of a 
national army; but, on the death of that minister, was tacitly repudiated 
by the Government preferring a small budget to a strong line of defence.' 
Henderson's Spicheren, 

The Gerviau Annies. 227 

particular, to begin a war ; far more thoroughly pro- 
vided to carry that war to a successful issue. 

The German infantry had been thoroughly organised 
on a system which gave to every officer the necessity of 
exercising independent action, and to the men the faculty 
of understanding the object of the manoeuvre directed. 
Its cavalry had been specially instructed in duties of 
reconnaissance, of ensuring repose for the infantry, of 
collecting intelligence, of concealing the march of armies, 
of acting as a completer of victory, or as a shield in case 
of defeat. It had profited greatly by the lessons it had 
learned in the war of 1866. 

The German artillery had likewise been greatly im.- 
proved in efficiency of manoeuvre since 1866. It was in 
all respects superior to that of the French. 

Of the Prussian and south German leaders, I will only 
say that we shall meet again the men from whom we 
parted on the conclusion of the armistice of Nikolsburg. 
What was their task and how they executed it will be 
described in the pages that follow. In mere numbers, 
the King of Prussia had a great advantage over his 
enemy. For, whilst without any assistance from South 
Germany, and after allowing for three army corps which 
might be necessary to watch Austria and Denmark, he 
could begin the cam.paign with a force of 350,000 men, 
he was certain of the assistance of Southern Gern.any, and 
confident that unless the French should obtain consider- 
able successes at the outset, neither Austria nor Denmark 
would stir a hand to aid them. 

To counterbalance this superiority of numbers the 
French Emperor had cherished a vague hope that, in a 
war against Prussia, he might possibly count upon the 
ancient friendship for France of Bavaria and Saxony, 
and to a still greater extent upon Austria and Italy. 

2 28 All Germany joins Prussia. 

With regard to Saxony and Bavaria, he was speedily 
undeceived. Bismarck had done his work of amalga- 
mation too well to allow of any hope that sentimental 
reminiscences would induce the minor powers of Ger- 
many to stand back from the defence of the Fatherland. 
To them the Prussian minister had made it abundantly 
clear that it was Napoleon III. who was the aggressor, 
and that his aim was to aggrandise France at the expense 
of Germany. But the case of Austria differed in all 
respects from that of her allies of 1866. By a course of 
fraud and falsehood, Prussia had in that year forced upon 
her a war which had not only deprived her ruling house 
of her immemorial ascendency in Germany, but had 
expelled her from the sphere of German influence. The 
Chancellor of the Austrian empire, moreover, Count 
Beust, was a statesman who had, as minister of Saxony, 
combated the policy of Bismarck, and who had brought 
to his more exalted post a strong desire to upset, if it 
should be possible, the settlement of the Treaty of Prague. 
Beust was therefore very much inclined to favour an 
alliance with France, if such an alliance could be made 
without endangering Austria. Doubtless he had dis- 
cussed the matter with the Duke of Gramont, and pos- 
sibly he had left on the mind of that too sanguine 
statesman the impression that Austria would accompany 
France in a war against Prussia with something stronger 
than mere sympathy. And if Napoleon III. had not 
been in so great a hurry ; if he had allowed the incident 
of the Hohenzollern candidature to pass by ; and if he 
had then worked steadily for alliances for a war which, he 
must have been aware, would sooner or later be forced 
upon him, such a combination might have been arranged. 
But for Austria, unprepared as she was for war, to throw 
herself suddenly into a struggle to which an integral part, 

Austria for the Moment Neutral. 229 

a most important part, of her dual monarchy was opposed, 
was a matter not to be thought of. The clear foresighted- 
ness of Bismarck had provided for the possibility of such 
an occurrence. Austria could not move to the support of 
France without incurring the danger of an invasion from 
Russia, and Beust had good reason to believe that the 
one would entail the other. 

These matters were discussed at a council held at 
Vienna on the 1 8th of July. It was there resolved that 
Austria should for the present remain neutral, unless 
Russia should take active part with Prussia ; but that if 
the French should succeed in penetrating into Southern 
Germany in force, then Austria should join her with her 
whole army. In a despatch to Prince Metternich at 
Paris, Beust pointed out that to declare war immediately 
against Prussia would not fail to bring Russia into the 
field ; but that if Russia were cajoled until Austria should 
be ready, and the circumstances of the war should be 
such as would render it advisable, Austria would then 
declare herself. He added that Austria had already 
agreed with Italy for a joint armed mediation, and he 
strongly engaged him to urge upon the French Emperor 
the securing of the sympathy and support of Italy by the 
evacuation of Rome. 

Napoleon III. was indeed at this very time engaged 
with negotiating with the King of Italy to secure a triple 
alliance between the three powers. It was in consequence 
of these negotiations that the French troops evacuated 
the Papal States on the 2nd of August. The co-opera- 
tion of Italy, as the co-operation of Austria, was made 
to depend upon the obtaining by the French troops of 
initial successes. It was not only understood, but was 
actually drafted in a treaty — the signing of which, how- 
ever, was prevented b}' the rapid course of the war — that 

230 Italy — the Chances of Germany 

if on the 15th of September, France should be holding 
her own in Southern Germany, then Austria and Italy 
would jointly declare war against Prussia. 

These condititions made it clear that ultimate success 
in the struggle about to commence would accrue to the 
power which should obtain the first advantages. 

That Germany — for it was Germany and not Prussia 
only which entered upon this great struggle — would 
obtain these initial advantages seemed almost certain. 
Count Moltke had for some time previous been engaged 
in planning for a war with France. So far back as 1868 
all his arrangements for the formation of the armies to 
be employed, the points to be occupied, the nature of 
the transport, had been clearly laid down. These in- 
structions had been carefully studied by the several corps- 
commanders and their staff. Not one matter, however 
apparently trivial, had been neglected. When, then, on the 
1 6th of July, the King of Prussia gave the order for 
mobilisation, it required only to insert the day and the 
hour on which each body of troops should march. With 
respect to the armies of the States of Southern Germany, 
Moltke, anticipating that the French Emperor would 
throw his main army as rapidly as possible into Southern 
Germany, had recommended that the contingents from 
that part of the country should march northwards 
to join those of Prussia on the middle Rhine, to 
assume there a position which should menace the 
flank and rear of the invading army. This position 
would be the more practical, as in the event of the 
French not invading Southern Germany, the combined 
force, stretching from Saarbrucken to Landau, would 
be ready to invade France, and sever the communica- 
tions with Paris of the French armies on the frontier. 
Count Moltke had calculated that the German troops 

_^^<3A«f If-^^tJi 

(U>^U?i& ft^?i ^yf/lf>//AT 

A nd of France. 2 3 1 

intended to cross the French frontier would be in a 
position to make their forward movement by the 4th 
of August. Pending the development of the French 
strategy with respect to Southern Germany, therefore, 
he thought it prudent to delay the march of the southern 
contingents, in order that no part of the army might 
be suddenly overwhelmed by a superior force. On the 
actual frontier he placed, then, only a few light troops, 
for the purposes of reconnoitring, and for checking the 
first advance of the enemy until supports should arrive. 
The French Emperor had, indeed, been keenly alive 
to the advantages which would accrue to himself from a 
prompt invasion of Southern Germany. He designed to 
concentrate 150,000 men at Metz ; 100,000 at Strasburg ; 
to cross into Baden with these armies ; whilst a third, 
assembling at Chalons, should protect the frontier against 
the German forces. The plan itself was an excellent one 
had he only been able to execute it, for, as we have seen, 
early success in Southern Germany would have meant 
the armed assistance of Austria and Italy. But the 
French army was in a condition more unready, one might 
truly say, of greater demoralisation, thus early, than its 
severest critics had imagined. Considerable forces were 
indeed massed about Metz and Strasburg. But the com- 
missariat and transport departments were in a state of the 
most hopeless confusion. The army could not move. 
To remedy these evils time was wanted, and time was the 
commodity the generals could not command. Every 
day which evoked some little order out of chaos 
brought the Germans nearer to positions, the occupation 
of which would render impossible the contemplated in- 
vasion. The Emperor had quitted Paris for Metz, accom- 
panied by the Prince Imperial, on the 28th of July, and had 
arrived there and taken the supreme command the same 

232 The Emperoi"' s Plan impossible. 

day. The day following he met his generals at St Avoid, 
and unfolded to them his plans. Since war had been 
declared he had lost many illusions. It had become clear 
to him that he was warring against the concentrated 
might of Germany ; that he could not make the inroad 
into Southern Germany originally contemplated without 
exposing Paris to an attack from forces already occupy- 
ing the country between Treves and Mannheim ; that he 
was bound to hold that line. Anxious, however, to 
assume the offensive, he dictated the following plan to 
his marshals. Bazaine with the 2d, 3d, and 5th army- 
corps should cross the Saar at Saarbrlicken, covered on 
his left by the 4th corps, which should make a show of 
advancing against Saarlouis, whilst M'Mahon, pushing 
forward from his position near Strasburg, should cover 
his right. The Emperor had some reason to believe that 
the Saar was weakly held. 

But his own generals showed him that his plan was 
impossible. They represented to him that instead of the 
300,000 men whom, in the delirium of the Paris enthu^ 
siasm, he believed he would find available for his purposes, 
he had at the utmost 186,000 ; that in every requirement 
for moving the army was deficient ; that there was 
scarcely a department which was not disorganised. He 
was compelled, therefore, to renounce his plan for decisive 
offensive action. He came to that resolve most un- 
willingly, for Paris was behind him, ready to rise unless 
he should make some show of advancing. It was to 
reassure the excited spirits of the capital, rather than to 
effect any military result, that, on the 2nd of August, he 
moved with 60,000 men in the direction of Saarbrlicken. 
The garrison of that place consisted of something less 
than 4000 men with six guns. The Emperor attacked 
it with the corps of Frossard, eighteen battalions and 

French Awakening from Delusions. 233 

four batteries. These compelled the slender German 
garrison to evacuate the place, but Frossard, though the 
bridges across the Saar were not defended, made no 
attempt to cross that river. The soldierly manner in 
which the Germans had covered their retreat had left on his 
mind the impression that they were more numerous than 
they were, and that there was a larger force behind them. 

Still, for the only time in the war, the Emperor was 
able to send a reassuring telegram to Paris. The young 
prince, upon whom the hopes of the nation would, he 
hoped, rest, had undergone the ' baptism of fire.' French 
troops had made the first step in advance. 

Soon, however, it became clear to him that the enemy 
had concentrated along the line of the frontier, and were 
about to make their spring. Moltke, in fact, from his 
headquarters at Mayence, was, by means of solitary horse- 
men employed in profusion, keeping himself thoroughly 
well acquainted not only with the movements of the 
French but with their vacillation, their irresolution, their 
want of plan. The sudden appearance from unexpected 
quarters of these horsemen conveyed a marked feeling of 
insecurity to the minds of the French soldiers, and these 
feelings were soon shared by their chiefs. It was very 
clear to them that an attack might at any moment come, 
though from what quarter and in what force they were 
absolutely ignorant. This ignorance increased their vacil- 
lations, their uncertainties. Orders and counter-orders 
followed each other with startling rapidity. The soldiers, 
harassed, began to lose confidence ; the leaders became 
more and more incapable of adopting a plan. 

Suddenly, in the midst of their vacillations, of their 
marchings and counter-marchings, the true report reached 
them, on the evening of the 3d of August, that a French 
division, the outpost of M'Mahon's army, had been sur- 

2 34 IVeissenbicrg and its Alarms. 

prised and defeated at Weissenburg by a far superior 
force. Napoleon at once ordered the 5th corps to con- 
centrate at Bitsche, and despatched a division of the 
3d to Saargemlind. These orders were followed by 
others. Those of the 5th of August divided the army 
of the Rhine into two portions, the troops in Alsace being 
placed under M'Mahon, those in Lorraine under Bazaine, 
the Emperor retaining the Guard. Those of the 7th 
directed the 2d corps to proceed to Bitsche, the 3d to 
Saarguemund, the 4th to Haut-Homburg, the Guard to 
St Avoid. These instructions plainly signified the making 
of a flank movement in front of a superior enemy. With 
such an army as the Emperor had, inferior in numbers, 
many of the regiments as yet incomplete, all his resources 
behind him, and these becoming daily more available, his 
one chance was to concentrate in a position commanding 
the roads behind it, and yet adapted for attack if attack 
should be necessary. As it was, without certain informa- 
tion as to the movements of the Germans, anxious to 
move, yet dreading to do so, until his regiments should be 
completed, the French Emperor was confused and helpless. 
He forgot even to transmit to the generals on one flank 
the general directions he had issued to those on the other. 
Bazaine, for instance, was left on the 5th in ignorance of 
the Emperor's intentions with respect to M'Mahon ; on 
the 6th none of the subordinate generals knew that the 
flank march was contemplated. Frossard, who had 
fallen back to Spicheren, considered his position so in- 
secure that he suggested to Leboeuf that he should be 
allowed to retire from the Saarbrlicken ridge. He was 
ordered in reply to fall back on Forbach, but no instruc- 
tions were given him as to the course he should pursue 
in the event of his being attacked, nor were the contem- 
plated movements of the Emperor communicated to him. 

M'Ma/iOH, Donay, IVeissenburg. 


In every order that was issued there was apparent the 
confused mind of the issuer. 

Turn we now to M'Mahon and the movements of 
himself and his generals. When the war broke out 
M'Mahon was in the vicinity of Strasburg with 45,000 
men ; General Douay with 12,000 men at Weissenburg. 
The same confusion prevailed here as at Metz. The 
orders given to M'Mahon were of the vaguest description: 
Douay had no instructions at all. Yet, in front of him, 
the German hosts had been gathering. The commander 
of the left wing of the German army, the Crown Prince 
of Prussia, had, in obedience to the instructions he had 
received, crossed the frontier river, the Lauter, on the 4th 
of August, with an army composed of the 2d Bavarian 
and 5th Prussian army, numbering about 40,000 men, and 
marched on Weissenburg. As his advanced guard ap- 
proached the town, it was met by a heavy fire from the 
French garrison. The Crown Prince resolved at once to 
storm the place. Douay had placed his troops in a strong 
position, a portion of his men occupying the town defended 
by a simple wall ; the bulk, formed on the Gaisberg, a hill 
two miles to the south of it. Against this position the 
Crown Prince directed his chief attack. The contest 
which ensued was most severe, the assailants and the 
defenders vying with one another in determination and 
courage. But the odds in favour of the former were too 
great to permit Douay to hope for ultimate success. After 
a resistance of five hours' duration the Germans carried 
the Gaisberg. Douay himself was killed ; but his sur- 
viving troops, though beaten, were not discouraged. They 
successfully foiled an attempt made by the Germans to 
cut off their retreat, and fell back on the corps of M'Mahon, 
which lay abo'jt ten miles to the south of Weissenburg. 

The same day on which the Crown Prince had attacked 

236 M'Mahon takes Position at Worth. 

and carried Weissenburg, another German army corps, 
that of Baden-Wurtemberg, a part of the third army, 
under the command of the Crown Prince, had advanced 
on and occupied Lauterburg. That evening the entire 
third army, consisting of 130,000 men, bivouacked on 
French ground. Meanwhile M'Mahon, on hearing of 
Douay's defeat, had marched to Reichshofen, received 
there the shattered remnants of Douay's division, and, 
with the Emperor's orders under no circumstances to de- 
cline a battle, took up a position on the hills of which 
Worth, Froschweiler and Elsasshausen form the central 
points. He had with him 47,000 men, but the 5th corps, 
commanded by De Failly, was at Bitsche, seventeen miles 
from Reichshofen, and M'Mahon had despatched the most 
pressing instructions to that officer to join him. These 
orders, however, De Failly did not obey. 

The ground on which M'Mahon had retired offered 
many capabilities for defence. The central point was the 
village of Worth on the rivulet Sauerbach, which covered 
the entire front of the position. To the right rear of 
Worth, on the road from Gundershofen, was the village of 
Elsasshausen, covered on its right by the Niederwald, 
having the village of Eberbach on its further side, and 
the extreme right of the position, the village of Morsbronn, 
to its south-east. Behind Worth, again, distant a little 
more than two miles on the road to Reichshofen, was the 
key to the position, the village of Froschweiler. From 
this point the French left was thrown back to a mound, 
covered by a wood, in front of Reichshofen. 

On the 5th of August the Crown Prince had set his 
army in motion, and had rested for the night at Sulz. 
There information reached him regarding the position 
taken by M'Mahon. He immediately issued orders for 
the concentration of his army, and for its march the 

Battle of Wortk. 237 

following morning towards the French position, the 
village of Preuschdorf, on the direct road to Worth, to be 
the central point of the movement. But the previous 
evening General von Walther, with the 5th Prussian corps, 
had reached Gorsdorf, a point whence it was easy for him 
to cross the Sauerbach, and take Worth in flank. March- 
ing at four o'clock in the morning Walther tried this 
manoeuvre, and at seven o'clock succeeded in driving the 
French from Worth. M'Mahon then changed his front, 
recovered Worth, and repulsed likewise an attack which 
had in the meanwhile been directed against Froschweiler 
by the i ith Prussian and 5th Bavarian corps. For a 
moment it seemed as though he might hold his position. 
But between eleven and twelve the enemy renewed his 
attack. Whilst one corps again attacked and carried 
Worth, the nth Prussian corps, aided by sixty guns 
placed upon the heights of Gunstett, assailed his right. 
They met here a most stubborn resistance, the French 
curassiers charging the advancing infantry with the 
greatest resolution. So thoroughly did they devote 
themselves, that they left three-fourths of their number 
dead or dying on the field. But all was in vain. The 
Prussians steadily advanced, forced their way through 
the Niederwald, and threatened Elsasshausen. Whilst 
the French were thus progressing badly on their right, 
they were faring still worse in the centre. The Ger- 
mans, having seized W^orth, stormed the hilly slopes 
between that place and Froschweiler, and made a furious 
assault upon the latter, now more than ever the key of 
the French position. For whilst Froschweiler was their 
objective centre, their right was thrown back towards 
Elsasshausen and the Niederwald, their left to Rcich- 
shofen. Whilst the nth Prussians were penetrating the 
Niederwald, preparatory to attacking Elsasshausen on 

238 Effect of the Defeat at Worth. 

the further side of it, the 5th Prussian corps with the 
2nd Bavarians were movin^ against Froschweiler. It 
was clear then to M'Mahon that further resistance was 
impossible. Still holding Froschweiler, he evacuated 
Elsasshausen, and drew back his right to Reichshofen. 
The safety of his army depended now upon the tenacity 
with which Froschweiler might be held. It must be 
admitted, in justice to the French, that they held it 
with a stubborn valour not surpassed during the war. 
Attacked by overwhelming numbers, they defended the 
place, house by house. At length, however, they were 
overpowered. Then, for the first time, the bonds of dis- 
cipline loosened, and the French, struck by panic, fled, in 
wild disorder, in the direction of Saverne. They reached 
that place by a march across the hills the following even- 
ing. On their way they fell in with one of the divisions of 
the corps of de Failly, and this served to cover the retreat. 

Though their defeat, considering the enormous superi- 
ority of their assailants, might be glorious, it was doubly 
disastrous, inasmuch that it followed those perturbations 
of spirit alluded to in a previous page, which had done 
so much to discourage the French soldier. A victory 
at Worth might have done much to redeem past mis- 
takes. A defeat emphasised them enormously. It was cal- 
culated that, inclusive of the 9,000 prisoners taken by the 
Germans, the French lost 24,000 men. The loss of the 
victors amounted to 10,000. They captured thirty-three 
guns, two eagles, and six mitrailleuses. 

The Emperor was deeply pained by the result of the 
battle. To keep up, if possible, the spirits of his partisans, 
he wired on the evening of the 7th to Paris, with the news of 
the defeat, the words, " tout se peut retablir," He was mis- 
taken. Whilst the Crown Prince was crushing M'Mahon 
at Worth, there was occurring close to the scene of the 

The Germans — and the Division Frossard. 239 

Prince Imperial's baptism of fire, an event which may be 
regarded as one of the decisive events of the war. 

The second German army corps, commanded by 
Prince Frederic Charles, had taken the position assigned 
to it, between Mannheim and Mayence, on the 29th of 
July. Thence it was directed to concentrate on the line 
Alsenz-Griinstadt, twenty-six miles beyond Mayence. 
The advance beyond that line presented some difficulties, 
for, between it to the north-east, and Neunkirchen- 
Zweibriicken to the south-east, there lay a spur of the 
Vosges, some forty miles in breadth. Across this spur 
were only rugged roads, and although two of these, on 
the proper right of the Prussian army, were traversable by 
troops, the remainder merged into one road at Kaisers - 
lautern, half way through the hills, and so continued as 
far as Homburg, twenty-three miles to the front. Time 
therefore would be required before the corps which 
composed the second army could deploy on the line of 
Neunkirchen-Zweibrlicken. More than this ; the French 
were known to be at Forbach, and a rapid advance by 
them from that place would necessarily throw the second 
army on the defensive. The new line, moreover, was 
but twenty miles distant from Forbach and Saargemtind, 
both occupied by the French. It was impossible then 
for the Germans to entangle their force of 120,000 men 
in the spur they hoped to traverse until the intentions 
of the French at those places should be known. A rapid 
advance from them by an energetic and skilful com- 
mander, made when the army was so entangled, could 
scarcely fail to cause them disaster. 

However, on the ist of August tentatively, and on the 
2nd with greater rapidity, the second army committed itself 
to this undertaking. It was engaged in it when, on the 
3rd, information reached Prince Frederic Charles that the 

240 Details of the German Advance. 

French had advanced from Forbach and Saarguemund 
and seized the heights of Saarbrlicken. To the clear head 
of the director of the movements of the German armies 
it soon became evident that the enemy contemplated no 
further forward movement, and he wired the same evening 
to the Red Prince to push on so as to deploy the second 
army in front of the belt of forest near Kaiserslautern — 
i.e., on the line of Neunkirchen-Zweibriicken — whilst the 
1st army should advance upon Tholey, and the 3rd upon 
Weissenburg. The Red Prince carried out these instruc- 
tions, and, from the 4th, had his army in position ready 
for action. On the night of the 5th his five army-corps 
and the Guard occupied Neunkirchen, St Wendel, Zwei- 
brlicken, Homburg, Kusel, Landstuhl, Otterberg, and 
Mlinchweiler, in touch with the first army on its right. 
It was the intention of Moltke to make a grand advance 
of both armies, together 320,000 strong, into Alsace, as 
soon as the advance of the 3rd army into Lorraine should 
make itself felt. Yet this plan, owing to the action of the 
commander of the first army. General von Steinmetz, was 
not carried out in the manner he had contemplated. 

Under the impression that the French army was about 
to attack the Prussian second army, Steinmetz had resolved 
on the 3rd, in order to facilitate the advance of that army, 
to draw to himself the attention of the enemy's forces. 
With this view he proposed to advance into the line 
Saarlouis-Hellenhausen ; thence, the following day, to 
push forward reconnaissances in force up the Bouzonville, 
Boulay, and St Avoid roads. Orders received that night 
modified these arrangements, and, on the 4th, the first 
army concentrated towards Tholey. It remained in that 
position on the 5th. But, on the 6th, Steinmetz, warned 
to evacuate the Wendel-Saarbrlicken road, to leave it free 
for the advance of the second army, pushed forward with 

Kamecke s Division advances. 241 

the view of taking a position within a day's march of the 
Saar, so as to strike the flank of the French should they 
make an attack on the second army. Pushing on, the 
advanced guard of the 14th division of his army pro- 
ceeded to occupy the heights of Saarbriicken, whence the 
French had retired. There they deemed themselves 
secure. For although across the open fields in front of 
them were the hanging woods of the Spicheren heights, 
occupied by 28,000 men and ninety guns, nothing be- 
tokened that those heights were strongly occupied. On 
the escarped Rotherberg some companies of French in- 
fantry were indeed visible, and small bodies were seen in 
the Forbach valley. From these appearances the Prussian 
general commanding the 14th division, Von Kamecke, 
judged he might have before him some 7000 men, no more. 

Of the action which followed, my account must 
necessarily be condensed. Dealt with by the painstaking 
and gifted writer to whom I am so much indebted,' the 
story fills a small volume. To that volume I refer the 
reader who would desire to master every detail of the 
terrible fighting, and to criticise the leading on both sides 
on that eventful day. 

' The Spicheren plateau,' writes the authority I have 
just referred to, ' is a salient of the great table-land of 
Lorraine, rising squarely between the valley of the Saar 
upon the one hand and Forbach on the other ; separated 
from the Saarbriicken ridge by the St Arnual Valley, the 
breadth of which amounts on the east, near St Arnual 
village, to looo ; on the west, between the Rotherberg and 
Reppertsberg to quite 2000 paces. The slopes of the 
plateau, save at the left-hand corner, where the Rother- 
berg juts out to the northward, are densely wooded, and 
on every side so steep and abrupt, that even an uncn- 

' Henderson's The Battle of Spicheren. Gale & Po!den. 


242 The Spichereii Plateau. 

cumbered man finds it no light task to scale them. Be- 
tween the oaks and beeches which clothe the cliffs from 
base to brow, the undergrowth flourishes in such luxuri- 
ance, as to present peculiar difficulties to the movements 
of a body of soldiers heavily equipped, and bound to 
maintain formation. The crest of the heights is about 
300 feet above the valley. 

' The Rotherberg, viewed from the Saarbriicken ridge, 
appears an insignificant height, and easy of ascent. But 
from the valley at the foot, where the verge of the main 
plateau is no longer visible, the famous spur stands out a 
formidable hill, the crest about 1 50 feet above the level. 
East, west, and north the fall is steep, and where, at the 
date of the battle, the red rock cropped out from the 
scarped hillside, it was sheer and precipitous. . . . The 
surface of the spur, 250 feet in breadth, is bare and un- 
dulating, rising gently to the south, and joined to the 
plateau by a somewhat narrower saddle. 

'The Spicheren-Saarbriicken road, which, after crossing 
the valley from the Nussberg, winds round the eastern 
shoulder of the spur, supported on a log embankment, 
was practicable for artillery.' 

On the morning of the 6th of August the three divi- 
sions which constituted the force of General Frossard 
were posted as follows : Jolivet's brigade of the ist division 
was to the north-east of Stiring-Wendel ; Valaze's brigade 
was to the west of Forbach ; the 2d division was at Oc- 
tingen, three miles south of Spicheren ; the 3d division 
was at Spicheren. Very early that morning Frossard had 
received a telegram from Leboeuf, warning him that he 
might be attacked that day. Frossard threw up intrench- 
ments at some commanding points, but did nothing 
further in the way of preparation. He had, however, 
several telegraphic communications with Bazaine, the gist 

Frossard s Position — Bazaine. 243 

of tlie latter's instructions being to the effect that he had 
ordered two divisions to support him ; but that if he were 
seriously attacked, he would do well to retire on Calen- 
bronn. It apparently never occurred to Bazaine to ascer- 
tain the precise position of the ist German army by a 
cavalry reconnaissance, though such a movement v/as very 
feasible. He had himself, whilst reconnoitring on the 
Saarlouis road that morning, been fired at by a detach- 
ment — a troop or two — of Prussian Hussars, but instead of 
following them up, he had simply suggested to Frossard the 
advisability of detaching a large force to watch that road. 

Though Bazaine had recommended Frossard to fall 
back on Calenbronn in the event of a serious attack, he 
had, I have said, clearly intimated to him that he had 
posted two divisions to support him in case that course 
should not be feasible. Frossard had, at Forbach, largre 
stores of provisions and materiel, and it was the reluctance 
to abandon these without a struggle, combined with the 
certainty he felt that he would be supported, that decided 
him not to move without fighting. He had one division 
on the Spicheren heights ; another was on the Rotherberg ; 
a brigade covered his left was at Stiring-Wendel ; another 
occupied the Pfaffen wood on his right. His position had 
a length of 4700 yards : the troops he disposed of num- 
bered 27,000. The position, though it possessed some 
strong points, was not, taken altogether, a strong defensive 
position. It was broken ; unfavourable for counter-attack ; 
and it was only from the Rotherberg that the guns could 
play on the valley by which the Prussians must approach. 

We left General Kamecke with the advanced guard 
of the 14th division of the Prussian army surveying the 
position I have indicated from the Saarbriicken ridge. 
He had with him, or close at hand, 10,750 bayonets. The 
occupation of the Rotherberg was necessar\- for the 

244 ^^^^ Kaniccke attacks the Rotherberg. 

maintenance of the ridge on which he was standing. So 
far as he could trust to his eyesight, that hill was but 
h'ghtly occupied. After considerable hesitation, then, he 
resolved to drive the French from it. 

Shortly before twelve o'clock Kamecke directed his 
27th brigade to drive the French artillery from the 
Rotherberg. The right attack made with great gallantry 
was met by the French, who, at this point, were consider- 
ably stronger than the assailants, with resolution. The 
fire from the Chassepots, the guns, and the mitrailleuses told 
with deadly effect, and it seemed at one time as though 
the Prussians were about to fall back. Two and a half 
hours of fierce fighting, however, saw them, 2000 strong, 
deployed along a front of 1400 yards facing the French, 
and depending for a further advance on the progress th'j 
attack might make on the other flank and in the centre. 

During the same period, the left attack reached, after 
an hour's march, under fire the greater part of the way, 
the foot of the Rotherberg heights at the point where 
those heights had a sheer descent into the plain. Moving 
rapidly and in broken order through the thicket to their 
right,the assailants reached a point where the height seemed 
more accessible, and at once attempted it. Soon they 
came in contact with the defenders, and a little further 
they found themselves exposed to the fire from the troops 
on Spicheren. For a time they were in a very critical posi- 
tion. Far from being able to assist the right attack, their 
one hope was to be extricated from the trap into which 
their own daring had led them. To see how this was accom- 
plished we mustawait thefurtherdevelopmentsonbothsides. 

Still believing that the French were in small force, 
and were bent on withdrawing, if they could, Von 
Kamecke determined to try the effect of a front attack 
with the two battalions and three batteries which still 

Von Kanicckes Fresh Attack. 245 

remained to him. Placing the batteries in a position 
to concentrate their fire on the defenders of the spur, 
he moved forward his infantry across the 1500 paces 
which intervened between his point of advance and 
Spicheren. Though exposed to a heavy fire, which 
thinned their ranks, the men pressed forward with 
great gallantry, and gained the shelter of the heights 
they hoped to storm, and whose abruptness at this 
point shielded them from the enemy's fire. But even 
then the general position (2.30 p.m.) was critical. The 
central attack could do no more than hold its own : 
the left attack had been repulsed in an attempt to 
extricate itself by a forward movement : the right attack 
stood fronting a superior force supported by one still 
stronger. For the first time, probably, the Prussian leader 
realised that he had led his men into a trap. It seems cer- 
tain that if at this moment the French had, with their 
superior numbers at the decisive point, assumed the offen- 
sive, a great disaster would have occurred to the Prussians. 
Unfortunately for the French, their commander, Fros- 
sard, was not at the point which was being assailed. He 
was in Forbach, imperatively detained there, he thought, 
by the necessity of being in constant telegraphic com- 
munication with Bazaine. It was his first command 
demanding independent action. He was embarrassed 
by the evidence which accumulated every hour that the 
force attacking his position veiled a much larger force ; 
and, not possessing that 'divine afflatus' which char- 
acterised Napoleon, and Clive, and P^rederic, and, in 
his best days, Massena, he was afraid to him- 
self to any bold or decisive ^ action. Content that his 

' Henderson truly remarks : ' Had Frossard been gifted witli a spark of 
Napoleon's genius, he would have re-enacted Rivoli and have destroyed 
one, if not both, of the hostile columns. (Page 153.) 

246 The Germans obtain a Footing on the Hill. 

generals had apparently repulsed the attack, he resolved 
to await the reinforcements expected from Bazaine. It 
is due to him to add, that he had a right to expect 
these, for at 2.25 he had received a despatch from his 
commander-in chief which left no doubt on his mind 
that 25,000 men were marching by good roads to 
support him. It would seem, however, that the generals 
to whom Bazaine had sent the order to advance dis- 
played the most culpable indifference to the fate of the 
advanced corps of their own army, and made no effort 
to support their comrades. 

Such was the condition of affairs at half-past two, 
the French holding their positions, the attacking Germans 
exposed to great danger, if a counter-attack were to be 
made in force; the two German armies, the ist and 2d, 
hurrying to support their comrades ; the French divisions 
detailed to support Frossard combining practically to 
leave him in the lurch. It was just at this moment 
that the officer commanding the French on the Rothcr- 
berg, General Laveaucoupet, resolved to attempt on a 
small scale the manoeuvre which Frossard should have 
tried in force, to make a counter attack. At half-past 
two, then, he made a very resolute effort to turn the 
Prussian left. He had some success at first, but the 
opportune arrival of reinforcements to the threatened 
Prussian left checked him. Then it was that the Prussian 
leader. Von Kamecke, obeying a true soldierly instinct, 
resolved to make a bold effort to capture the Rotherberg. 
This, by a display of great daring, he succeeded, though 
at a great sacrifice of life, in partially effecting, that is, his 
men obtained a firm footing on that well defended hill. 

Meanwhile, on their right, the French, recovering from 
their check, had succeeded in driving before them the 
Prussian left. But this occurrence, owing to the presence 

French luaintain the Fight on the Rotherberg. 247 

of mind of the Prussian officers, was turned to their 
disadvantage. For whilst, owing to occurrences in the 
other parts of the field, the French were unable to pursue 
their advantage on their right, the Prussians, who had 
been repulsed on the left, guided by the sound of combat, 
dashed across the valley to reinforce their comrades. 
Pushing on under such cover as was to be found, they 
surprised the French, and compelled them to relinquish 
their hold on the trench they had so well defended. 

At Stiring-Wendel the Prussian attack had made 
some progress, but, up to half-past three, nothing decisive 
had occurred. At that hour the French, reinforced to 
6000, stood opposed to about 5000 Germans. 

At three o'clock General von Goeben, commanding 
the 8th army corps of the Prussian army, arrived on the 
ground, and assumed the direction of the fight. He 
speedily recognised that the French were bringing all 
their available reserves to reinforce their troops on the 
Rotherberg, to drive from its crest the 1800 German 
troops, who, we have seen, had planted themselves on that 
important position. His object was to maintain that 
post, and his manoeuvres were directed to attain that 
end. From half-past three till half-past four the fight 
on the Rotherberg was conducted with great fury, the 
Prussian advance being supported by the fire from the 
guns judiciously placed on the Galgenberg and Folster 
height. It was this fire, admirably conducted, which pre- 
vented the more numerous French infantry from dashing 
forward to sweep away the enemy's footmen as they 
ascended. Still they maintained their position, the 
slaughter being great on both sides. But between half- 
past four and five the first battalion of the Prussian 12th 
regiment, arriving by successive companies in the very 
nick of time, forced the P^icnch to relinquish their hold on 

248 The Strziggh for the Gifert Wood. 

the spur which they had by a supreme effort almost 
gained, and to withdraw to a position higher up the cliff. 
The consequence was that, at five o'clock, the Prussians 
still held the edge of the Rotherberg, the north-west 
corner of the Gifert wood, the ravine separating the two 
positions, and, to the left, the ridge within the wood. The 
French line, extending across the spur and bending back 
at an angle, was still strongly held. In the other parts of 
the field the French had at least held their positions, but 
the Prussian reinforcements were coming up quickly. 
Amongst those who had arrived during the interval just 
mentioned was General von Zastrow, commanding the 
7th army corps, and he, as senior officer, had, at half-past 
four o'clock, assumed the chief command. 

The main object of contention was now the possession of 
the Gifert wood. To drive out the Prussians, now become 
somewhat superior in numbers, the French had here con- 
centrated 9000 men. Then between five and six o'clock 
' the front of the battle swayed backwards and forwards, 
ground being won and lost as fresh troops came up on 
either side.' The breadth of the wood at this point did 
not exceed 500 yards. The fighting was very close, the 
smoke blinding, and officers were forced to use their 
revolvers. In such a combat the superior training of the 
Prussians, the practice to which officers and men had 
been alike subjected to use their brains in difficult cir- 
cumstances ; the greater cohesion between the private and 
the officer ; gave the assailants a great advantage. In that 
one hour's combat these advantages made themselves felt. 
Though equal was the valour, equal the determination of 
the French, that training and that cohesion just turned the 
scale, and at six o'clock the French yielded the crest and 
fell back in good order towards Spicheren, to hold a second 
position stronger than that which they thus renounced. 

New French Position at Spiclicren. 249 

The front of the new position taken by the French 
commander rested on the Spicheren knoll, the right being 
made secure by a ravine. The left rested on the Spicheren 
wood. To eject the French from this was, at six o'clock, 
the intention of the German leader. It was the more 
necessary that he should succeed here, for on his right, at 
Stiring-Wendel, the French, strongly reinforced, were more 
than holding their own, and at one time it seemed as 
though one vigorous effort would have given them a 
position which must have compelled the Prussians to 
renounce the advantages they had gained on the Rothcr- 

The effort of the Prussians was now, between six and 
seven o'clock, directed to the driving of the French from 
the Spicheren knoll, and, this having been effected, to the 
turning of their left flank by the Spicheren wood. But so 
vigorous was the defence, and so severe the fire of the 
Chassepots, that their first attack on the knoll was re- 
pulsed with heavy loss. Then, a severe artillery fire, last- 
ing over half-an-hour, from guns commanding the position, 
compelled the defenders to evacuate this post ; but, at 6.45, 
' the battle had come to a standstill ; the French still pre- 
senting an unbroken front, and overwhelming with fierce 
bursts of musketry every efibrt made by the Prussians to 
break forward from the wood, and maintaining a constant 
and heavy shell fire on the border.' - The Prussian 
generals felt that a strenuous effort must be made to 
preserve the advantages they had gained ; and that their 

'Henderson writes (page 214), that notwithstanding their 'gallant stand 
against overwhehning odds, it is extremely improbable that the Prussian 
right could have long resisted the attack so energetically pushed by Generals 
Bataille and Verge. Besides the troops that had stormed the copse, 6000 
infantry, at least, the whole garrison of Stiring-Wendel were close at hand, 
and it is not too much to assert that one vigorous efibrt would have given the 
French the battle.' 

Henderson, page 220. 

250 Gallantry of the French Infantry, 

only chance was to attempt, whilst holding the enemy in 
front, a solid flank attack. This they made with six 
battalions and two batteries. These reached, by a path 
previously traversed by their comrades, the western brow 
of the Spicheren plateau ; formed there at right angles to 
the French position, and driving back the light troops of 
the enemy, gained, after a severe struggle, a solid position 
on his left which threatened to ' pierce the very heart of 
the defence.' At the same time the front defence, rendered 
uneasy by this flank movement, had somehow relaxed ; 
and it seemed as though a combined effort must give the 
Prussians the victory. But at this supreme moment the 
French infantry proved themselves worthy of the renown 
they have gained on many a hard fought battle-field. 
They had been fighting for seven hours : they had been 
compelled, after a terrible struggle, to yield some strong 
positions : but now, called upon by the general who had 
led them with skill and gallantry, General Laveaucoupet,i 
to make one final bid for victory, to charge with all their 
force the enemy in front of them, they responded with 
a vigour, a dash and a resolution which would have done 
honour even to those noble compatriots who had conquered 
Italy in 1796. Furiously they charged : with a great 
effort they drove back the enemy in front of them, but 
just as it seemed that they might redeem the day, the flank 
position gained by the six Prussian battalions in the man- 
ner described, forced them to relinquish their hold. Dark- 
ness was coming on ; they could see neither the numbers 
nor the position of their enemy : they only knew that the 
further they advanced the more they would place them- 
selves, if he were in force, in his power : they therefore in 
the most perfect order, relinquished the positions they had 

' This general, one of the best on the French side, of the war of 1S70, 
died, at an advanced age, whilst I was writing these lines. 

Who retreat from the Spieheren Knoll. 251 

won, and whilst their comrades repulsed the flank attack 
of the Prussians, they fell back unpursued on Spieheren. 
They had at least the consciousness that they had inflicted 
a very heavy loss on their enemy, that they had saved 
their honour, and that if the generals of their army had 
displayed one-fourth part of the energy evidenced by the 
Prussian Generals, they would have been victorious. ^ 

Why was Frossard not reinforced ? At nine o'clock 
he had telegraphed to his chief Bazaine that he had heard 
cannon-firing in front, and had suggested that Montaudon 
should send a brigade to Grossbliederstroff, and that 
Decaen should advance to Merlebach and Rossbruck. 
At 10.40 he had reported that the enemy had shown him- 
self at the two places last named. At 11. 15 Bazaine had 
replied that he had sent one division to Bening, another to 
Theding, and told Frossard to send a brigade to watch 
Rossbruck, adding, that if the attack were really serious, 
it would be advisable to concentrate on Calenbronn. 

About this time Bazaine himself made a reconnaissance 
towards Carling, and was fired at by Prussian scouts. 

At 2.25 Bazaine telegraphed that he had ordered 
Montaudon (by telegraph) to Grossbliederstroff. So far 
the movements he had taken coincided with the advice 
he had given to Frossard, to fall back on Calenbronn if he 
should be seriously attacked. But he stopped short at a 
point which, if pursued, would have given his orders life 
and vitality. He made no reconnaissance in the direction 
of Saarlouis, he despatched not a single staff officer to as- 
certain the position of affairs, he did not even take one step 
to ascertain how far his orders to the several generals had 
been obeyed ; whether Frossard had fallen back on Calen- 
bronn, or whether Montaudon or Decaen had advanced 

'The Germans lost 223 officers and 464S men : tlie Frencli 249 officers 
anil 3S29 men. 

252 Shortcomings of Bazaine. 

to his support. He excused himself for these shortcomings 
by pleading the necessity of remaining in close communi- 
cation with imperial headquarters — an excuse which can- 
not be accepted, and which places his conduct in striking 
contrast with that of the generals of the army opposed to 
him. It was not till five o'clock, having been since two 
o'clock without any news from the front, that he tele- 
graphed to Frossard for some information : ^ Dojinez-inoi 
des nouvdles pour me tranquilliser! At that moment 
Frossard and his men were fighting for their very lives. 
He gets, of course, no tranquillising news ; but nearly an 
hour later he hears that Frossard's right has been forced 
to fall back, and receives a demand for succour. Instead 
of complying with this demand, he contents himself with 
recapitulating the position of the divisions he had ordered 
forward to support Frossard. A few minutes later comes 
the report that the battle, which had been very heavy, 
was dying away, and asking for a regiment. A regiment 
is at once sent forward in two trains to Forbach. Towards 
eight o'clock he hears of the retreat, and replies that he 
has done all he can, that he has only three regiments to 
guard the St Avoid position, and asks Frossard to explain 
the position he thinks should be occupied. 

It would seem that, on further investigation, however 
much Bazaine's personal action is worthy of condemnation, 
his divisional generals were, perhaps, even more culpable. 
After half-past two o'clock Frossard left Bazaine in ignor- 
ance of his position, and made no effort to call up the 
commanders whom Bazaine had ordered to support him. 
Bazaine's order to Montaudon to move forward reached 
that general's division at three o'clock, but at the time 
Montaudon was away reconnoitring, and his division 
made no movement until his return at five. The troops 
did not reach their appointed position until seven. No 

Culpability of French Divisional Co))iniandcrs. 253 

staff officer was sent to communicate with Frossard, nor 
did Frossard communicate with Montaudon. Castagny, 
who had been ordered at eleven to march on Theding, 
did set out at once in the direction of Spicheren. He 
marched, however, by a road which took him somewhat 
to the right of the true Hne. Consequently, after march- 
ing five miles, he lost the sound of the firing and halted. 
A little later, on the report of some peasants that the 
French had gained a victory, he returned. Again at five 
he advanced, but he did not reach Folkling, three miles 
from Spicheren, till nine o'clock. Metman's conduct is 
even less excusable. He reached Bening, in obedience to 
Bazaine's orders, at three o'clock. There he was seven 
miles from Stiring-Wendel. He heard the firing, and if 
he had only pushed on he would have reinforced the 
French at the very point where the Prussians were 
weakest, and where, even without him, the French, by 
a bold advance, might have gained the victory. But 
Metman did nothing. He made no attempt to discover 
the meaning of the firing. He appears, writes Hender- 
son, 'to have forgotten that the chargers of even infantry 
adjutants have legs.' 

The loss of the battle of Spicheren, then, is not attri- 
butable to the French soldiers, who behaved splendidly : 
it cannot altogether be attributed to Bazaine, although a 
Massena, a Lannes, a Davoust, would have displayed on 
such an occasion a personal activity which could not have 
failed to ensure success. It is to be attributed to the want 
of energy, of confidence in one another of the French 
divisional commanders ; to their careless indifference, the 
result of bad training ; to their neglect of the most ordin- 
ary military precautions : in one word, to their inferiority, 
as divisional leaders, to those of the same rank in the 
Prussian arm>-. 13ut for the men, I repeat, it is difficult 

2 54 Conunents on the Battle. 

to say too much in their praise. They were indeed an 
army of h'ons. But there are circumstances, and Spicheren 
was one of them, in which it is impossible even for an 
army of Hons to succeed. 

After the battle, the French, as I have said, fell back 
unmolested. Their battalions were still intact ; ' their 
retreat, so far from being a rout, was made in so leisurely 
a fashion that the bivouac fires of their rearguard were 
to be seen on the Pfaffenburg.' ' The Prussians,' writes 
the same author,^ ' were so exhausted, and in such ex- 
treme confusion at every point, that a further advance 
would have been no less difficult to initiate than to 
carry out.' 

' Henderson, page 241. 



The conviction that a serious defeat would imperil the 
dynasty was ever before the eyes of the French Emperor 
and his superior generals. On the day following the 
disasters of Worth and Spicheren, Napoleon sent five 
telegrams to Paris, acknowledging the disasters and ap- 
pealing to the patriotism of the citizens, whose cries, 
* A Berlin,' had done so much to provoke the war. In 
the last of these messages he plainly told them that it 
was necessary that Paris and France should ' consent to 
make great efforts of patriotism.' In Paris the news 
produced an effect such as that which is caused on a 
human being by a smart blow on the temple. There 
was no demonstration : the faculties of the mob seemed 
stunned. The awakening from the delirium which had 
sent the masses into the streets to shout for war, had 
paralysed all their energies. In vain did the Empress 
issue a reassuring proclamation. In vain did the 
ministers, while declaring Paris in a state of siege, 
exhort the people to rise as they had risen in 1792. 
The population seemed bewildered, and it was only 
when the awakening was complete, that, instead of re- 
sponding to the call, the masses and their leaders began 
to search for a victim. The first victim was the Ollivier 
ministry. In the chambers which had been specially 
convoked, contrary to the wishes of the Emperor, 
the minister who had declared war ' with a light heart ' an- 


256 Bazaine assiiuies Coviniaud-in-Chief. 

nounced his resignation, and with it, the fact that, with 
the consent of the Emperor, General Cousin-Montauban, 
Count of PaHkao, the general who had commanded the 
French troops in the Chinese war of i860, had been 
entrusted with the formation of a Cabinet. It was the 
last Cabinet of the Second Empire. 

To return now to the field. 

After his defeat at Worth, M'Mahon had led his 
defeated and disorganised army to Nancy, thence to 
Chalons, without attempting to avail himself of the many 
defensive positions offered by the Vosges mountains. 
The Crown Prince of Prussia, committing to General 
von Werder, with the Baden troops and the Prussian 
Landwehr, the task of besieging Strasburg, was therefore 
able to cross those mountains without opposition. It was 
the fear lest that prince should again be able to attack 
the French marshal before he should have had time to 
reorganise his forces that had directed his movements, 
and those of the corps commanded by De Failly, on 
Chalons, there to unite with the reserves organised at 
that place. There M'Mahon arrived with but 16,000 of 
his original army of 38,500 on the i6th of August, and 
there the same day the Emperor joined him, having left 
Bazaine at Metz with about 170,000 men. Of these 
11,000 were cavalry, and he had 280 guns. 

On the 1 2th of August the Emperor had, in con- 
sequence of communications from Paris, renounced the 
command -in -chief of the French armies in favour 
of Marshal Bazaine, and a day or two later had, 
as we have seen, set out to join M'Mahon at 
Chalons. His last instructions to Bazaine — if, indeed, 
under the circumstances, they can be called instructions 

were to the effect, that he should fall back with his 

army behind the Meuse, to form a close touch with 

Bazame begins to move from Metz. 257 

M'Mahon at Chalons, and with the troops which were 
rapidly approaching, consisting of the garrison of 
Rome, of the troops sent originally on board the fleet, 
of the marines, and of the remainder of the 7th 
corps. To carry out this idea, which had his full ap- 
proval, the French commander-in-chief directed his 
engineers, on the 13th, to throw pontoon bridges over 
the Moselle ; sent the same day a portion of his 
military trains as far as Gravelotte ; and set out on the 
14th to carry out the plan indicated, leaving only one 
infantry division to garrison Metz. Had he succeeded, 
the war would assuredly have assumed a phase very 
different from that which actually occurred. But, on 
that very day, the 14th, the, first Prussian army, com- 
manded by Von Steinmetz, had taken a position on the 
east front of Metz. The patrols sent out later in the 
day reported to the several corps-commanders that 
the French divisions encamped on the right bank of 
the Moselle had begun to march away. One of those 
commanders at once put his troops in motion. 

There were three French army corps encamped on 
the right bank of the Moselle, the 2d, the 3d, and the 
4th. The second and fourth had already begun their 
march when the third, left as the rear-guard, was sud- 
denly attacked by a portion of the ist Prussian army 
near the chateau of Colombey. It happened in this 
wise. On hearing that the French were moving off, 
the happy inspiration entered the mind of General von 
Goltz, commanding the advanced troops of the 7th Prus- 
sian army-corps, to dash forward to hinder as much as 
possible their retreat. Quitting then with his troops, at 
half-past three, his bivouac at Laquenexy, and summon- 
ing the 1st corps and the ist cavalry division to follow 
in support, Von Goltz dashed forward and attacked the 


258 The Battle of Colombey. 

3d corps at the village of St Barbe. The 2d and 4th 
corps turned back to help their comrades ; supports 
came up to the Prussians, and very soon a serious 
action, extending from St Barbe to Grigy, a length of 
nearly seven miles, was engaged. For seven hours the 
battle raged with varying fortunes, both sides fighting 
with great courage and great determination. At nine 
o'clock the Prussians desisted, and whilst the French 
then moved to carry out the plan they had begun that 
morning, the Prussians fell back on their original posi- 
tions. For neither side could the battle be claimed, in 
itself, as a victory, but, judging from its results, it was 
fraught with enormous advantage to the invaders, for 
it lost to Bazaine most precious hours, and those hours, 
well used by his enemies, forced his army, as we shall 
see, into a trap whence, during the war, it never emerged 
but to surrender. 

Serious as was the battle of Colombey, it did not 
prevent the French from continuing their retrograde 
movement. They spent that same night (of the 14th) 
in crossing to the left bank of the Moselle. On the 
morning of the 15th Bazaine had his five corps, the 2d, 
Frossard's ; the 3d, Decaen's ; the 4th, L'Admirault's ; 
the 6th, Canrobert's ; and the Guards, Bourbaki's ; ranged 
on the left bank of that river, with the road to Verdun 
open to him. He at once set it in motion in two 
parellel lines. But either from a lingering reluctance 
to quit the vicinity of Metz, or because he had not 
realised the vital importance of quick movement, nor the 
possibility of rapid movement on the part of the enemy, he 
made progress at a rate so slow, that when he encamped 
that night the advanced-guard of his northerly column was 
at Doncourt ; that of the southern column at Vionville ; 
the headquarters, with the bulk of the army at Gravelotte. 

Great Energy of the Germans. 261 

For the Germans, after the tremendous efforts they 
had made on the 14th to prevent the escape of their 
principal enemy, had become all the more determined to 
spare no pains still to detain him. For them the battle 
of Colombey had not been fought in vain. It had, 
as I have said, given the much required time to the 
second army to cross the Moselle. On the 14th, then, 
the following dispositions were made at the German 
headquarters. Of the first army, the corps of Manteuffel 
and two cavalry divisions were to remain on the right bank 
of the Moselle ; the 7th and 8th corps, those of Zastrow 
and Goeben, were to cross that river to the south of Metz ; 
the second army would follow their example. Follow- 
ing these orders on the evening of the 15th of August, whilst 
the French were resting in the positions I have men- 
tioned, the 3d corps of the second army, that of Constantine 
von Alvensleben, began the passage, crossed the river, and 
pushing on in a northerly direction to gain the bye-road 
leading from Metz to Verdun, reached Gorze and Orville 
at three o'clock the following morning. Resting there 
but two hours Alvensleben resumed his march, followed 
by the 6th cavalry division towards Mars-la-Tour and 
Vionville. As he approached the latter place, the patrols 
he had sent to the front announced to him the presence 
of the advanced posts of the French, covering, they 
reported, a very large encampment. Recognising that 
he had succeeded in gaining a strong position on the 
enemy's flank, and that an attack even with his com- 
paratively smill force would, in the moral condition of 
the French army, hinder their forward march, Alvensleben 
resolved on an immediate assault. Riding with his 
cavalry to the front, he began the fight ^about seven 
o'clock with that arm alone. For two hours he sustained 
the combat against the superior numbers of the French 

262 The Battle of Vionville. 

infantry. The latter, who had wheeled round to meet 
their enemy, occupied Vionville with their right. Thence, 
to the left towards Metz, their line followed the crest of 
a range of hills, presenting a convex face to the Germans, 
who, it will be understood, were coming up from the 
south. The key of the position was Vionville, for, if the 
Germans could drive the French from that place, they 
would cut their communications with Verdun. The reten- 
tion of Vionville became then the main question with the 
French, its capture the salient object of the Germans. 

Bazaine was now thoroughly aware of the importance 
of pushing on to Verdun. He hesitated then to commit 
his army to offensive operations against the enemy on his 
flank, but continued to push his main force beyond Grave- 
lotte, hoping to ward off the flank attack by the retention 
of the position I have described. But, at ten o'clock, the 
infantry of the 3d German corps reached the ground, and 
attacked Vionville with great fury. The French defended 
themselves with their usual gallantry, but whilst their 
leaders were distracted by two objects, that of escaping 
with the main body, whilst a portion of the army should 
ward off the flank attack, the Germans had for the 
moment but one object, that of taking Vionville. In this 
object they succeeded, after fierce fighting, at eleven o'clock. 
An hour later they had gained a position stretching from 
Flavigny to Tronville, and thence to the further end of 
the wood on its left, almost facing Mars-la-Tour. It was 
just at this time that Bazaine, accompanied by Frossard, 
rode to the field to strengthen his receding centre. He 
had just succeeded in doing this when information reached 
the German leader that Canrobert, who commanded on 
the French right, was forcing back the German left. To 
restore the battle there Alvcnsleben despatched General 
Bredow with his cavalry brigade. Bredow galloped up 

The Battle of Vionville. 263 

the slopes to the north of Vionville, deployed his men, 
and, charging under a very hot fire, forced the enemy 
to give ground. 

It was now three o'clock, and whilst in the centre and 
on the left the battle languished, a second furious combat 
had commenced on the French right between the troops 
just arrived on both sides — the 3d and 4th French, and the 
loth German, corps. After a fiercely contested encounter 
of three hours' duration, the superior numbers of the 
French prevailed, and the attack was slowly forced back. 
On their right, and in the centre, however, the Germans 
clung firmly to the positions they had gained. During the 
three hours' contest I have referred to. Prince Frederic 
Charles, who had now assumed supreme direction of the 
fight, had failed in an attempt to turn the French right 
beyond Mars-le-Tour ; the French had then endeavoured 
to take full advantage of this failure, but their forward 
movement had been checked by the brigade of the 
dragoons of the Guard, whilst another cavalry brigade 
assailed their left wing. Then ensued a terrible contest 
between the cavalry of the two armies, not unequal in 
number, for there were twenty-two squadrons of the 
French against twenty-four of the Germans. It was the 
fiercest cavalry combat of the war. Five thousand men 
met in a hand-to-hand encounter, the more severe as each 
man felt that upon the issue depended the ultimate fate 
of the army of which he was a component part. After 
many alternations the French were forced back ; then the 
Germans, to finish the day, made a combined attack on 
the heights of Rezonville. But there the defenders stood 
firm, and the attack was repulsed. When darkness set 
in, the Prussian advanced posts extended from the Bois 
des Oignons along the plateau of Rezonville as far as 
Yronbach. Both sides then rested from their labours. 

264 Position of the Tivo Armies. 

The battle had been one of the bloodiest of the war. It 
had lasted twelve hours, and the losses on both sides had 
been enormous.' Both occupied during the night the 
positions they had maintained during the battle. 

Bazaine telegraphed to Paris that the enemy had been 
repulsed along the whole line, and that the French held 
their positions. This, in a certain sense, was true : he had 
repulsed the German attack, and, though the road to 
Verdun was no longer available, he had still a way to 
the north open to him. On the other hand, the German 
attack had lost him another day. He could still, however, 
he hoped, beat back the enemy, and force his way out of 
the trap in which it was designed to detain him. He 
spent the 17th, then, in moving the right wing of his 
army across the north Verdun road to St Privat, on the 
road from Metz to Briey. His left, composed of the 
2d corps under Frossard and the 3d under Leboeuf, he 
placed so that its extremest point should rest on a hill 
near the village of Rozerieulles, on the main road to 
Gravelotte. From this hill its right extended towards 
St Privat, so as to come in touch with the corps of 
L'Admirault, on whose right again, occupying St Privat, 
was Canrobert. Notwithstanding his heavy losses on the 
previous day, Bazaine still could reckon on a force but 
little short of 125,000 men. 

Amongst the German generals who had attacked the 
French at Vionville, the expectation had been that the 
French, confiding in the superiority in point of numbers 
which they at the moment commanded, would become 
the assailants on the 17th. But when they saw that 

' The French lost 879 officers and 16,128 men ; the Germans 711 officers 
and 15,079 men. The number of the French on the field amounted to 
138,000, with 476 guns; but of these only two-thirds were engaged ; that of 
the Germans to 67,000, with 222 guns. Vide note at end of chapter. 

The Germans push Home Their Advantage. 265 

Bazaine was simply changing his position for one pre- 
senting greater capabiHties for defence, they prepared for a 
decisive battle on the morrow. The day's rest enabled the 
King to call up the remaining portions of his second army. 

At six o'clock on the morning of the i8th, the King, 
who had slept at Pont-a-Mousson, rode to the summit of 
the hill to the south of Flavigny. Thence he could see 
the second army, which had come up an hour earlier, 
marching in a northerly direction in perfect order, each of 
its corps complete in itself, each with its own leader, and 
its destination clearly imprinted on that leader's mind. 
The direction of the 7th corps was towards Gravelotte. 
It seemed to him at first that the French right wing had 
established itself at St Privat to cover the movements of 
its left and centre. 

The King of Prussia had at his disposal 230,000 
men ; all well-trained soldiers ; many of them flushed 
with recent victory. At ten o'clock, after some changes, 
necessitated by the fuller information he obtained as to 
the enemy's position, he directed the 9th corps on 
Verneville and La Folic, opposite to the French centre 
(L'Admirault) ; the corps of guards in support on 
Amanvillers ; the 12th corps on to the high-road to 
Briey. Soon it appeared to the attacking party that the 
French position extended to its right as far as a point 
opposite Verneville, and that there was concentrated 
the extreme right of the French army. The position 
was covered by ditches and hastily thrown-up intrcnch- 
ments. Not only was it a very strong position, but the 
fire from the chassepots, commanding a longer range 
than the Prussian needle-gun, commanded the ground 
over which the German army must advance. The dis- 
positions for attack were then so far changed, that whilst 
the first army should hold Gravelotte and detain the 

266 Battle of Grave lotte. 

enemy at the nearest point to Metz, the second, inclining 
to its left, should drive the centre and right from the 
strong positions it had occupied. 

It was close upon midday before the batteries of the 
9th Prussian corps, suffering in its advance very heavy 
losses from the chassepots, opened fire near Verneville 
on the French centre. The French batteries replied with 
vigour, and, soon after, the French tirailleurs, taking 
advantage of the fact that the German batteries were 
unsupported by infantry, charged one of them, and 
captured two of its guns. At two o'clock, the other 
German batteries had been so much damaged, that they 
were no longer in a position to continue the fire, nor was 
the situation mended when the artillery of the 2d 
division of the same corps (the 9th) arrived at Habonville, 
and put in position, on both sides o fthe railway, its five 
batteries. Upon these the concentric fire of the French 
was now directed. The German batteries which had been 
playing since midday were now drawn to the rear pursued 
by the French tirailleurs, who, however, were repulsed. 
Reinforcements soon came up from the 3d corps and the 
Guards, and before long there was concentrated at 
Verneville a front of 120 pieces of artillery, supported by 
infantry. The anxiety which had been very real at the 
German headquarters for the safety of this position ceased 
from this moment. The position indeed had been a 
dangerous one for the assailants. The German staff, with 
all its intelHgence, had mistaken the French centre for its 
right. If Bazaine, on his side, had not made the mistake 
of massing too large a portion of his force close to Metz ; 
had he placed the Guards on his right, instead of keeping 
them in hand ; in fact, had he been a daring and not a 
timid commander, the Germans might have had to pay 
dearly for their mistake. 

Mistakes of the Genuans. 267 

For, about two o'clock, the German leaders had begun 
to realise that the position which they had regarded as 
the French right, and had attacked in that belief, was 
really the French centre. The general commanding the 
1st division of the Prussian Guards had seen his left 
strongly menaced at the moment he believed that 
he occupied a position immediately in front of the 
extreme right of the French line. The point whence 
he was menaced, a village called Sainte-Marie-aux- 
Chenes, was strongly occupied and capable of a good 
defence. It became necessary, therefore, to carry it at 
all hazards. But for this it was necessary to await 
the arrival of the corps of Saxons, then rapidly ap- 

At three o'clock the Saxons' batteries reached a posi- 
tion whence they could open on Sainte-Marie, and, as 
soon as their fire had made itself felt, the Prussian and 
Saxon infantry charged and carried the village. They 
were not allowed, however, to hold it with impunity. The 
French made many and well-sustained efforts to regain 
it, but the constant arrival of reinforcements gave the 
Germans the advantage, and they held the place to 
the end. Soon after, the 9th corps established itself 
in the farm of Champenois, opposite to the very centre 
of the French position : but although they made many 
efforts, some of them in considerable force, to break 
through the front of the French position, they were in- 
variably repulsed, and suffered severely. At this point, 
up to five o'clock, the attack on the PVcnch centre had 
been practically resultless. 

At five o'clock, however, all the divisions of the army 
of Prince Frederic Charles had taken up the positions 
prescribed to them. The King and his advisers had 
originally intended to await that event before making 

268 The King attacks the French Left, 

the attack general. But the sound of the heavy fire at 
Vionville, at midday, led them prematurely to believe the 
moment had arrived. The King ordered, then, the artillery 
of the right wing to open fire. In pursuance of this 
order sixteen batteries of the 7th and 8th corps, placed 
on the right and left of Gravelotte, began to play on 
the French position, and although the gunners were 
exposed to, and greatly suffered from, the fire of the 
French tirailleurs, these latter were dislodged by the 
German infantry, and the batteries mentioned were en- 
abled to advance close to the western border of the valley 
of the Mance, thence to open a heavy fire upon the right 
of the French left. 

In front of the left, and of the left half of the centre 
of the French position, stretching from a point on its left, 
where it almost touched the Bois de Vaux to another 
ust beyond the village of Champenois, was the wood 
known as the Bois de Genivaux. The French still held 
the centre of this wood, but the 9th German corps had 
penetrated into its extreme northern portion, and now 
the 29th brigade of the ist division of the 8th corps, 
covered by the artillery fire referred to in the preceding 
paragraph, entered the right of it, and some fractions 
of it gained the stone and gravel quarries of the farm 
St Hubert (opposite the centre of the French left). 
During their advance the German artillery fire had at 
this point dominated that of the French, and the latter 
had concentrated their efforts to the defence of the farm 
of St Hubert, threatened by the fractions of which I 
have spoken. At three o'clock the Germans carried 
this farm. A very fierce attempt made by the victors 
supported by the 31st brigade, to carry the farms 
of Moscou and Leipsig, the former to the French right 
of St Hubert, the latter at a greater distance to the 

The Germans make Progress on Their Right. 269 

right of that, both situated on ground that had been 
cleared, was defeated with enormous loss to the Germans ; 
but the 26th brigade succeeded in capturing Jussy, a 
farm to the Prussian right of the Bois de Vaux, at 
the apex of the angle of the left of the French position, 
the point, in fact, where the extreme left was thrown back 
towards Pappeville. The possession of this farm esta- 
blished the Germans, who carried it, on the direct road 
from Verdun to Metz at a point close to the latter 

It will thus be seen that between three and four o'clock 
the Germans had made some progress on their right. 
But it was not progress of a decisive character ; it had 
been gained at an enormous loss ; and it left the French 
in very strong positions. But, such as it was, it inspired 
one at least of the German commanders, as we shall 
see, with confidence that he had only to advance to 
complete the victory. The same sanguine disposition 
did not prevail in the German centre, for the generals 
there, not yet supported by Prince Frederic Charles 
on their left, had a sort of dim consciousness that there 
were, in front of that left, masses of French troops 
with whom they would have to deal, and who, M they 
should promptly make a forward movement, would take 
them in flank, whilst they were seriously engaged with the 
French centre in front of them. In this respect they were 
right. Not one of the German leaders had even at four 
o'clock realised the commanding position occupied by the 
French right, and it had been in the power of the French 
general commanding there. Marshal Canrobert, to make 
the assault fatal to the assailants. 

Prominent amongst the German generals who, at 
four o'clock, believed the battle to be gained, was General 
SteinmetZ; the commander of the first army. He then 

2 JO The Battle still doubtful. 

at that hour gave the order to renew the attack on 
the French left with fresh troops. In obedience to 
this order the 7th corps proceeded to occupy the outer 
fringe (that nearest to the French) of the Bois des 
G^nivaux, whilst four batteries, supported by the first 
cavalry division, advanced at a trot through the long 
defile of 1500 paces to the east of Gravelotte. But 
the French were ready for their foe. No sooner did 
the heads of the columns emerge from the defile than 
there opened upon them from the chassepots and guns 
which commanded its mouth a fire so terrible and so 
concentrated that, in a moment, all the gunners of four 
batteries were killed, and it required extraordinary efforts 
on the part of the Germans to drag back the guns to 
the fringe of the wood. The German batteries which 
had been placed at the farm St Hubert suffered also 
greatly from the French fire, but they held the farm. 
The cavalry which had been sent in support of the 
four batteries had succeeded in deploying in the direc- 
tion of St Hubert : but between them and the French 
there was no position they could charge. Realising 
this fact, and suffering greatly from the bursting of the 
enemy's shells, the cavalry retreated, having accomplished 
nothing, by the valley of the Mance.^ 

The retreat of the German cavalry encouraged the 
French infantry to the left-front of St Hubert to deploy 
and push forward to the farm of Point du Jour, driving 
back as they advanced, detached bodies of the enemy 
to the fringe of the wood. Their chassepots even reached 
the spot where the general-in-chief of the Prussian army 

' La Mance is a rivulet running from a point near La Folic, the centre of 
the French position, through the ground occupied by the 7th and 8th German 
corps, and thence, after making a curve to the south, entering the Moselle 
near Ars-sur- Moselle. 

Steinmetz fails to make His Way. 271 

had taken post, and a ball from one of them killed the 
horse on which Prince Adalbert was mounted. Rein- 
forcements enabled the Germans to win back their lost 
ground at this point, but they could make no impression 
on the main left of the French position, and at five 
o'clock both parties, thoroughly wearied, rested as if by 
mutual consent from their labours. 

But the rest was not for long. It was nearing six 
o'clock when the Prussian King reached with his staff 
the hill to the south of the Malmaison farm. From 
this point could be seen the farms of Point du Jour, 
Moscou, Leipzig, and ]\Iontigny-la-Grange ; but from 
Point du Jour to La Folic (the French centre) the 
smoke completely obscured the view ; whilst, on the 
extreme French right, to the north, a distance of over 
four miles, the sound of heavy firing came with ever 
increasing vehemence. It seemed to the King, under 
these circumstances that, unless he was ready to admit 
failure, something decisive must be attempted. Ac- 
cordingly he gave orders to Steinmetz to advance, and 
placed at his disposal the second corps, which, after a 
long march, had just reached the ground. 

Accordingly, Steinmetz, taking with him all the 
available troops of the 7th corps, excepting five 
battalions left in reserve, crossed the valley of La 
Mance, and, joined as he marched by the battalions 
posted in the wood of Vaux, took the direction of 
Point du Jour and the quarries with the hope of 
driving thence the 2d French corps. 

But there the French were ready to receive him. 
The 2d corps had but just been reinforced by the 
Voltigeurs of the Guard, and Bazaine had sent all the 
available reserves to support the front line. Upon the 
advancing Germans, then, there poured from the French 

272 The Attack on the French Right. 

position an artillery and infantry fire of the most 
murderous character. Steinmetz could make no way. 
But just then the 2d German corps, led by Fransecky, 
which had been marching since two o'clock in the 
morning, reached a point to the south of Gravelotte. 
Recking but little of the fatigue they had suffered, 
the gallant Pomeranians composing this corps mani- 
fested an irrepressible desire to be led instantly against' 
the enemy. Yielding to their enthusiasm their generals 
led them beyond Gravelotte right up to the quarries 
and to within a few hundred feet of Point du Jour. 
Then between them and the French there ensued a 
furious hand to hand encounter. It was so dark that 
it was almost impossible to distinguish friend from foe. 
Firing therefore gradually ceased, though it was not 
altogether silenced till ten o'clock. Before that hour, 
however, the Germans had recognised that the French 
occupied on their left a position which was impregnable, 
at least for the moment, and their leaders resolved to 
persevere no further till the morrow. 

Meanwhile, on the French right, to the right and left 
of St Privat, where Canrobert commanded, events were 
progressing which exercised a great influence on the 
general results. Canrobert's own corps, the 6th, and the 
4th, under L'Admirault, occupied the villages of St Privat 
and Roncourt, the former just opposite the village of St 
Marie, the latter to the right of St Privat. Their left held 
the railway station of Armanvilliers. Opposed to them, 
on their proper right, were the Saxons, led by the Prince 
Royal of Saxony, and the Prussian Guards, commanded 
by the Prince of Wurtemberg : but up to a quarter past five 
o'clock there had been no communication between the 
the two commanders. In fact, it was just at that hour 
that the Prince reached the village of St Ail, three- 

Description of the French Right. 


quarters of a mile, in the direction of Metz, from St Marie- 
aux-Chenes. At that time the Prince Royal of Saxony 
was engaged in concentrating his troops along the forest 
of Auboue, with the intention of marching thence to turn 
the extreme right of the French army. 

Left, then, as far as the troops to his proper left were 
concerned, to himself, the Prince of Wiirtemberg de- 
spatched his fourth brigade against the farm of Jerusalem, 
immediately to the (French) left of St Privat. At the 
same time General Manstein, to whom had been con- 
signed, at Habonville, the 2d brigade of the Guards, 
directed it upon Amanvillers, still further to the south of 
St Privat. Between these marched the Hessian battalions. 
Half an hour later there followed from St Marie, direct 
upon St Privat, the first division of the Guards. Whilst 
these troops are advancing we will proceed to note what 
had been the precautions taken by the French to ward off 
such an attack. 

The main defences of the French position were St 
Privat and Amanvillers, the latter being the railway 
station on the line from Metz to Verdun. The distance 
between the two is about a mile and a quarter. Roth 
these places were very strongly occupied. In front of 
them, especially of St Privat, the slopes leading to the 
valley, covered with brushwood and trenches, were guarded 
by infantry and artillery, so well disposed, that, up to the 
moment of the attack of which I am about to write, they 
had warded off every attack. Not a single German 
cannon-ball had reached either of the two main defences, 
St Privat and Amanvillers. 

At five o'clock the Prince of Wiirtemberg made dis- 
positions to attack the two main points noted. He 
directed the 4th brigade of Guards on the farm of Jerusa- 
lem, whilst General Manstein marched the other brigade 


2 74 ^^^^ Attack on St Privat. 

which had been assigned to him against Amanvillers. 
Between the two attacks marched the Hessians. Half an 
hour later the ist division of the Guards was directed from 
St Marie-aux-Chenes towards St Privat. To march against 
this latter, which in itself was very strong, all the houses 
being of masonry, well armed, and full of soldiers, the 
Germans had to ascend a long slope formed of ridges 
and brushwood, every point of which was occupied by 
the French tirailleurs, so posted that each ridge as it 
neared the town commanded the ridge below it. There 
could scarcely have been a position better adapted for 

And most gallantly did the French defend it. ' The 
Guards who advanced to the attack suffered losses out of 
all proportion,' writes Moltke. ' In less than half an hour 
five of their battalions lost all their officers and the others 
the greater part of them, especially the superior officers. 
Thousands of killed and wounded marked the passage of 
those battalions, which, despite of their heavy losses, con- 
tinued to advance. Their ranks, decimated, re-formed 
again and again, and even when they had as their leaders 
young lieutenants or even cadets, these brave soldiers 
held firmly together, and preserved all their moral 

Gradually the French fell back before their persistent 
advance. At a quarter past six the Germans had made 
good their way to within 600 paces of Amanvillers, and 
800 of St Privat. From those points to the two places 
mentioned the ascent increased in steepness, and was 
almost without shelter. There, then, the exhausted as- 
sailants halted, taking advantage of the shelter-trenches 
which the French had abandoned. There, for the space 
of half an hour, extended on a line of 4000 paces, and 
having as a reserve at St Marie but four battalions, they 

Over-caittion of the Fr^enck Genei^ah. 275 

kept at bay for half an hour the division De Cissey and 
the French cavahy, who attacked them repeatedly. 

Why the French generals who commanded on the 
right did not employ a greater strength to accomplish a 
result which, followed up, would have gained for France a 
great victory over vastly superior numbers, can only be 
accounted for by the fact that the previous successes of 
the German had rendered them doubly cautious. They 
had, they conceived, only a sufficient number of men to 
defend the strong positions they occupied, and they knew 
not the weakness of the attacking enemy. Some recogni- 
tion of the possibilities before him seem to have been 
aroused in the mind of Marshal Canrobert, for earlier in 
the day he had sent a message to Bazaine, earnestly en- 
treating the despatch to his assistance of the French 
Guards. Had those Guards reached him, the result of the 
day would have been different. Bazaine, regarding the 
maintenance of a close communication with Metz to be 
absolutely essential, had but partially complied with his 
lieutenant's request. He had sent to him a division of the 
Grenadiers of the Guard, under General Picard. But 
Picard lost his way, and, though the distance was but 
five miles, did not reach Canrobert till too late. The fate 
of France had been in his hands, and he sealed it. 

For, whilst Canrobert was too feebly endeavouring, 
with an insufficient force, to destroy the tired German 
soldiers who lay panting in the shelter-trenches at dis- 
tances of from six to eight hundred paces from his two 
main positions, there were marching to assist the latter 
those Saxon troops whom I have described as having, a 
little before five o'clock, marched to their left to double 
up the extreme right of the French. About seven o'clock, 
two of their brigades appeared on the field of the fight to 
the left of the German Guards. Two others were reform- 

276 The German Attack increases in Intensity. 

ing near the forest of Auboue. Whilst they were thus 
occupied, the twenty-four batteries of the German artillery 
had opened a strong fire upon Roncourt (to the French 
right front of St Privat). 

It became then, at this period, about seven o'clock of 
that August evening, clear to Marshal Canrobert, that the 
Germans with increased forces were about to make a very 
serious effort to force the positions he held. Regarding 
St Privat as the key of that position, the French Marshal 
resolved to concentrate his troops in and about that strong 
post. Whilst holding St Privat to the death, he would 
leave but a feeble body of men in Roncourt, and would 
throw back his right so as to occupy in strength the outer 
fringe of the wood of Jaumont By this disposition he kept 
his troops well in hand, an advantage not to be despised 
when the hour of the day is considered. The conse- 
quence was that the Saxons, pressing on to Roncourt, 
occupied it with but slight opposition, and came in touch 
on their right with their battalions which had preferred 
to march direct on St Privat, and who, in their turn, 
joined on their right the troops of the Guards who, 
since a quarter past six o'clock, had been resting in 
the shelter-trenches. 

No sooner had this junction been effected than a very 
fierce artillery fire from the twenty-four German batteries 
opened upon the posts occupied by the French. Under 
this fire the masonry houses of St Privat crumbled. It 
was, however, promptly answered by the French guns 
posted between St Privat and the forest of Jaumont, and 
which commanded the ground across which the Saxons 
were advancing. Other batteries posted to the (French) 
left of St Privat, and the tirailleurs, who covered the French 
front, opened likewise on the Prussian troops to the right 
of the Saxons a fire so severe and so continued that the 

The Germans carry St Privat. 277 

German advance on that side became possible only at the 
expense of enormous sacrifices. 

Still it was possible, and the German soldiers, though 
losing men at each step, pressed forward with admirable 
courage. Soon they had reduced the distance to St Privat 
from 800 to 300 paces. Thence, joined by fractions from 
the loth corps, they gave all along the line the last 
assault. The French defended themselves with the 
greatest resolution and tenacity, but their defences were 
in flames : gradually they were attacked on three sides : 
at last, driven back by vastly superior numbers, they had 
to choose between the fire of the houses and the enemy. 
Those who could not escape then surrendered. The few 
who could escape fell back on Amanvillers, wh'ch held 
out till three o'clock in the morning. During the night 
and the following morning the French right and centre 
fell back in disorder on their left, and thence into Metz. 
The road to Paris had been lost. 

The loss of the battle of Gravelotte must be attributed 
to the errors of the French commander-in-chief. Bazaine 
wished to seize the road to Paris, and at the same time 
to maintain his hold on Metz. To accomplish this end, 
he should have made his right strong enough to destroy 
the German troops which might attempt to hinder its 
progress. This had been possible at a quarter past six 
o'clock. Bazaine had some glimpse of the possibilities 
before him when he detached General Picard and a 
division of the Grenadiers of the Guard to his aid. 
But the remissness of that officer, who, quitting Plap- 
peville at three o'clock, had not accomplished the five 
miles which intervened at seven, rendered nugatory 
this feeble effort. It was this failure, combined with 
the heroic determination of the Germans to renew the 
battle at seven o'clock, which lost the battle of Gravelotte 

278 The Defeat fatal to France. 

to the French. The latter had fought well, and against 
vastly superior numbers.^ They had held their ground in 
the centre and on the left. It is possible that a more 
vigorous offensive on the part of Canrobert about a 
quarter past six o'clock might have prevented the after 
attack of seven o'clock, but even that is a matter for con- 
jecture. This is certain, that the French soldiers fought 
nobly ; that they were badly commanded ; that their 
defeat was, under the circumstances, fatal. 

The Germans lost 5238 killed (of whom 329 were 
officers), and 14,435 wounded (of whom 577 were officers). 
The French lost, in killed and wounded, 609 officers and 
11,705 men. 

' Von Moltke's enumeration of the numbers cannot be acceited. Because 
in the October following there were 173,000 soldiers in Metz, he calculates 
that there must have been 180,000 in the fiekl at Gravelotte. The Germans, 
he asserts, numbered exactly 178,818 men. But he leaves out of this latter 
enumeration the whole of the German 2d corps, which, though it arrived late, 
joined in the fight ; nor does he count the portion of the first German army 
which shelled Metz from the eastern bank of the river, and kept the Imperial 
Guard on the spot. The reference to the French numbers is still more ab- 
surdly incorrect. In the 173,000 of the garrison who surrendered in October, 
at lenst 60,000 were Gardes Mobiles, who took no part in the battle. Bazaine 
asserts that he had but 100,000 engaged ; the Prussian staff reckon the French 
as from ' 125,000 to 150,000' ; General Hamley, a high authority, states that 
the French were 'outnumbered by more than two to one' ; Brockhaus' ' Con- 
versations- Lexikon, a standard work, gives the respective numbers at 230,000 
and 150,000. But it is certain that the entire French army under Bazaine at 
that time was somewhat under 125,000. We shall probably be correct in 
accepting 230,000 as the strength of the Germans, and in setting down the 
French, outside of Metz, at 110,000. It is absolutely impossible that they 
could have exceeded that number. 

Vide a very interesting article in the Academy of December 19, 1S91, by 
Judge O'Connor Morris, on this subject. 



During the 19th of August the rest of the army of 
Bazaine entered Metz, The force had been cut off by 
the incapacity of its generals from all active co-operation 
in the defence of France. The Germans did all that was 
feasible to close the avenues of escape from the trap in 
which their enemies were now confined. Early the same 
morning their cavalry destroyed the rail communication 
between Metz and Thionville. Then, leaving the greater 
part of the ist and 2d armies to blockade the fortress, the 
Prussian King detached from the latter three corps — the 
Guards, the 4th, and the 12th — and committing the com- 
mand of them to the Crown Prince of Saxony ^ as a 
separate army, to be called the 4th, directed him to effect 
a junction with the 3d army, and to watch closely and 
follow the operations of the army then re-forming at 
Chalons under Marshal M'Mahon, with which was the 
Emperor Napoleon. 

Including reinforcements, the army which remained 
before Metz, and which was commanded by Prince 
P'rederic Charles, consisted of eight and a half 
army-corps ; viz., the 3d army, composed of five and a 

' The Crown Prince of Saxony enjoyed the reputation of being the only 
German general of royal blood who could dispense with the services of a 
chief of the staff". I le was too capable to need an adviser. 


28o France after Gravelotte. 

half army corps ; and the newly-enrolled 4th army, count- 
ing, as we have seen, three corps. Attached to it also were 
four divisions of Prussian cavalry, the Saxon cavalry 
division, and the South-German cavalry. These two 
armies, the 3d and 4th, delayed not an hour longer 
than was necessary to carry out the general instruc- 
tions their general had received from the headquarter 

The task required the exercise of energy, quick and 
prompt decision, and accurate judgment. The new army 
of Marshal M'Mahon had it in its power to fall back on 
Paris, and to increase by an army of tried soldiers the 
garrison of the threatened capital of France. One of 
the hitherto possible obstructors to the siege of that city 
— the army of Bazaine — lay behind the walls of Metz. 
There remained, in the opinion of the German chiefs — 
an opinion not justified by events — only the army of 
M'Mahon. That destroyed, Paris must succumb. To 
remove that army from the path which led to Paris, or 
to destroy it, was then the task entrusted to the Crown 
Prince. Able as he was, he could scarcely have accom- 
plished it but for the infatuation of the advisers of the 
Empress Regent, then exercising all the powers of the 
Emperor in the administration of affairs. 

When, on the 28th of July, the Emperor had set out 
to join the armies on the frontier, he had committed the 
government of France to the Empress. I have told 
how, a few days later, the ministry of Ollivier had been 
forced by public opinion, dismayed by the earlier defeats 
of the French, to resign : how it had been succeeded 
by a ministry of which General Cousin - Montauban, 
Count of Palikao, had become Minister - President, 
Minister of War, and leading spirit. He it was whose 
advice, or rather whose orders, given in the name and 

M''Mahon ordered to help Bazaine. 281 

with the authority of the Empress-Regent of France, led 
the Empire to destruction. We shall see how. 

After his defeat at Worth, M'Mahon had fallen back 
with the disordered remnants of his army on Chalons, 
there to reorganise and strengthen it. Much progress had 
been made in both respects, when, after the result of the 
battle of Gravelotte had been known in Paris, he .received 
instructions from the Count of Palikao to march with the 
four army corps at his disposal northwards towards the 
Meuse, and to give a hand to the beleaguered Bazaine. 
The Emperor, greatly suffering from the disease which 
finally caused his death, scarcely able to sit on a horse, 
and then suffering acute agony ; his spirits depressed 
more even than by his sufferings by the misfortunes 
which had accompanied all the operations of the French 
armies, accompanied the army. But he accompanied it 
solely as a spectator. As Emperor he had no power to 
exercise, for he had transferred all his authority to the 
Empress-Regent ; as General he was likewise powerless, 
for on the 12th of August he had resigned his command 
in favour of Bazaine. His great wish was to end his life 

M'Mahon set forth to carry out his instructions. He 
marched from Chalons on the 23d of August with four 
corps,^ and quitting the grand route made his way across 
country as best he could to the village of Dontrien, on the 
bank of the river Suippe. The army rested that night 
on the banks of this stream, stretching from Aubcrive 
to Heutregivillc. The next night the army bivouacked at 
Contreuve and the villages in the vicinity, having its 
head-quarters at Rethel. On the 25th it was evident that 
great uncertainty prevailed at head-quarters, for in 

' The 1st, under Ducrot ; the 5th, De Failly ; the 7th, Douay ; the 
3cl, composed of fresh levies, Lebrun ; a total of about 135,000 men. 

282 Marches and Coiinterinai ches of M'Mahon. 

obedience to orders the army executed a change of front 
on its left, the 7th corps proceeding about five miles to 
Vouziers, the 5th and 12th remaining at Rethel, the first 
halting at Attigny. At midday the army was ranged on 
the left bank of the Aisne. It was clear that M'Mahon ex- 
pected an attack, for a careful watch was kept on the route 
from Monthois, by which only an enemy could approach. 

That same evening there arrived along that route, viz., 
the route of Monthois, the cavalry division Margueritte, 
2000 in number, which had been ordered to support the 
7th corps and to cover the left flank of the army. For 
some reason which was not apparent, this division was 
now brought into the very centre of the army. This 
movement caused a lively sensation in the camp, and the 
soldiers, always since the events which immediately 
followed the outbreak of hostilities, distrustful of their 
leaders, began more and more to question alike their 
abilities and their loyalty. 

The following morning, the 26th, M'Mahon, leaving 
a brigade of the 2d division to watch the route of 
Monthois, directed the 7th corps to pass through Vouziers, 
cross to the right bank of the Aisne, then to halt and pile 
arms, whilst he despatched the 4th Hussars along the 
high road to reconnoitre. Some hours later, about half- 
past two, a despatch from General Bordas, whose brigade 
had been despatched to occupy Buganey, a few miles 
distant, announced that he had encountered superior 
forces at Grand-Pre, and had been forced to halt there. 
The commander of the 7th corps. General Douay,^ expect- 
ing to be attacked, at once made his men fall in, and 
marching forward a short distance ranged his division on 
two hills between the villages of Chestres and Falaise, 
sending an aide-de-camp to the Marshal with the informa- 

' A lirother of the CJeneral Douay killed at Weissenburg. 

The Soldiers distrust their Leaders. 28 


tion. The corps remained in eager expectation of com- 
bat till four o'clock, when the return of the 4th Hussars 
caused fresh excitement. They had seen nothing. Two 
hours later a fresh despatch arrived from General Bordas 
with the information that he was still at Grand Pre, and 
dared not move, as he was confident that the country 
between that place and Vouziers was occupied by the 
Prussians. The officer who brought the message, travers- 
ing the very ground along which the general must have 
marched, proved that he was badly informed, and was 
deficient in enterprise. However, on the arrival of the 
message. General Dumont, who commanded the division 
of which the Bordas brigade was a part, set out to Grand 
Pre to disengage his lieutenant. 

Meanwhile General Douay had received a letter from 
the Marshal, telling him to hold his position ; that he 
would support him ; that he had despatched the 1st 
corps to Terron, the 5th to Buzancy, whilst the 12th 
would remain in second line at Le Chene. There was a 
rumour that the Germans were in strength (100,000) at 
Grand Pre, and during the day that followed the men 
eagerly longed for their appearance. But when midday 
arrived, then one, then two o'clock, and there was not the 
sign of a single helmet, the intelligent French soldiers 
began to recognise that their generals had been again 
mistaken. It seemed to them in the highest degree 
ridiculous that, marching as they were, to give the hand to 
Bazaine, they should remain halted on the mere rumour, 
unconfirmed by a single fact, that the Prussians were close 
in front of them. 

M'Mahon had never favoured the plan of marching 
upon Verdun to help Bazaine. According to his views, 
Paris, about to be seriously threatened, was the point 
upon which the army should fall back. His views were 

284 The Evipress forbids a Reh-eat on Paris. 

completely shared by the Emperor. Fully believing that 
the attempt to reach Verdun would be fatal to the army 
and to the country, M'Mahon resolved then, during the 
27th, to renounce the forward movement and to retreat on 
the capital. That night the army fell back accordingly, 
and reached the town of Le Chene. Thence M'Mahon 
despatched one telegram to Bazaine, informing him that 
the arrival of the Crown Prince at Chalons had forced him 
to fall back on the strong places in the north ; another to 
Palikao, telling him of the retreat and of his reasons for it. 

The telegram reached Paris that night. To the Empress 
and the Count of Palikao it was alike unwelcome. But 
little, they felt, was wanting to cause an insurrection in 
Paris which must be fatal to the dynasty. The return 
of the Emperor at the head of a defeated and discouraged 
army would suffice to produce an outbreak which would 
be irresistible. At all costs, then, it must be prevented. 
This selfish and shallow reasoning decided the minister 
of war to despatch positive instructions to M'Mahon to 
march on Montmedy. To him it was nothing that such 
a march, possible, if directed with energy on the 25th, had 
become on the 27th an act of pure madness. It was to 
send the army to destruction. The death of the Emperor 
during a general immolation would probably be accepted 
by the Parisian mob as an obliteration of all past griev- 
ances and the dynasty would be saved. 

Both the Emperor and M'Mahon recognised the mean- 
ing of the order. But they prepared immediately to 
obey it. That same night, a night of storm and tempest, 
the army began to retrace its steps. The men were 
thoroughly discouraged. The orders and counter-orders, 
the hesitations, the apparent ignorance of their leaders, 
had shaken all their faith. On the 28l:h a skirmish 
between the rearguard of the 7th corps and the sight 

Fatal March OIL Sedan. 285 

of ihe burning village of Falaise showed them that their 
march to Le Chene had given the Germans the time they 
required to forestall them everywhere. What was equally 
discouraging was the certainty that their general-in-chief 
was absolutely ignorant of the whereabouts of the main 
army of the enemy. 

The first intention of the Marshal had been to despatch 
the 7th corps by way of Buzancy to Stenay, where it could 
have crossed the Meuse. But hearing, by rumour only, 
that the Prussians had already reached Stenay, he directed 
that corps to march so as to be able the following day to 
cross the Meuse at Mouzon. At the same time the 5th 
corps, which had had a skirmish wath the enemy at 
Buzancy, was directed to retreat on Nourat, the 12th on 
Mouzon, the ist to move to Raucourt. The 7th corps 
during its march was watched by the German skirmishers 
the Uhlans, who appeared and disappeared without ex- 
changing a shot. 

That evening General Douay, perceiving his men 
exhausted by fatigue and want of food, had authorised 
their halting for the night at a place a {&\v miles short 
of the camping ground ordered by the Marshal. The 
latter galloped down the following morning to demand 
the reason. It was then arranged between them that 
whilst the ist division and the convoy of provisions 
should continue the march to Mouzon, the other two 
divisions should proceed by Raucourt and Autrecourt 
to cross the Meuse at Villers. The Marshal hoped to 
reach with all his troops the right bank of the river 
that night. 

The march was a sad one. Pairing, heavy firing, was 
heard on the right. It was evident that the Germans 
were attacking in force the 5th corps between Buzancy 
and Beauclair. At any moment the 7th corps might find 

286 The Retreat on Sedan. 

itself in contact with the enemy, and at the moment 
the divisions of the 7th corps were scattered. General 
Douay sent orders that they should march direct on 
Raucourt. His orders to cross the Meuse that night 
were precise, and he adopted the only means by which 
they could be carried out. 

Under many difficulties the 7th corps was approach- 
ing Raucourt when, at a turn of the road, it encountered 
the terrified remains of the brigade of the ist division 
which had been escorting the convoy of provisions, and 
which, by an error of judgment, mistaking the route, had 
fallen in with the 5th corps just as it had been defeated 
by the Germans at Varniforet, near Beaumont. The 
troops entered Raucourt helter-skelter, their generals 
as ignorant as they were regarding all the circumstances 
of the attack and the position of the Germans. They 
now hesitated as to the direction they should take on 
quitting Raucourt, whether they should still, under the 
altered circumstances, march on Autrecourt and cross 
the Meuse at Villers. It was five o'clock, and the men 
had marched since the early morning. No food was to 
be had at Raucourt, for the Marshal and the ist corps had 
passed through it during the day and had not left behind 
even a loaf of bread. It was decided, then, despite the 
fatigue and hunger of the men, who had eaten nothing 
for two days, to push on by the defile of Haraucourt to 
Remilly, a distance of rather less than five miles. They 
were but just in time. As the rearguard of the corps 
marched out of Raucourt the Germans entered it, and 
two of their batteries, posted on a height to the left, 
played upon the retreating Frenchmen. Such was the 
discouragement of the troops, that if the Germans had 
pushed on and had vigorously attacked them in the 
narrow and still narrowing defile of Haraucourt, they 

The French Army in Front of Sedan. 287 

would have been destroyed almost to a man. But, for- 
tunately for the French, the Germans contented them- 
selves with a continuous fire from their guns, sufficiently 
terrifying under the circumstances, for the road was 
encumbered by that portion of the baggage which had 
preceded the army corps. 

At length a turn of the road took the retreating force 
out of the line of fire. Autrecourt was reached. Thence 
the defile opened out, and the wearied and famished 
soldiers reached the heights of Remilly. Below them was 
the Meuse, that Meuse so longed for, so despaired of. 
Beyond could be discerned, in the faint glimmer of the 
twilight, the fortified walls of Sedan. Early the following 
morning the French army took a position on the heights 
of La Moncelle, Duigny, and Givonne, on the right bank 
of the rivulet of that name, a tributary of the Meuse, 
flowing to the east of Bazeilles ; their line continued to 
the east by Illy and Floing until it rested on the Meuse 
near the peninsula of Iges. There we must leave them 
whilst we follow the Crown Prince of Saxony and 
the 3d army in their march from Metz, on the morrow 
of the victory of Gravelotte, and describe how he 
manoeuvred so that M'Mahon should take the direction 
he desired. 

. On the 19th, the day after that battle, the two armies 
directed to operate against M'Mahon had begun their 
movements. The 4th corps marched direct to tlie Meuse, 
whilst the 3d army, with which were the King and the head- 
quarter-staff, crossed that river, and pressed on to Bar-le- 
Duc. A brigade of Hartmann's Bavarian corps was left 
before Toul, to replace a division of the 4th corps which 
had fruitlessly assailed that fortress, and which now took 
its place with the 4th corps. At Ligny, on the Meuse, two 
and a half miles bslow Bar-le-Duc, the Crown Prince had. 

2 88 Movements of the German Army. 

on the 20th, a long interview with Moltke, Blumenthal, 
and afterwards also with the King. Information had 
reached him that M'Mahon had quitted Chalons with 
his army, and the question to be considered was, whether 
he would march to Paris, or take a flanking position, 
whence he could assail the German armies as they should 
march in that direction. It was decided that under any 
circumstances the Crown Prince should continue his 
march on Chalons. Whilst he was marching in that 
direction, information reached him that M'Mahon had 
been moving towards Rheims, but suddenly quitting that 
line, had turned in a northerly direction towards Rethel. 
It was clear, then, that he had no intention of making for 
Paris, but was probably bent on marching, by a circuitous 
route, to relieve Bazaine. To baffle the French Marshal 
in this attempt, it was decided to give to the expeditionary 
force a wheeling movement to its right, so as to move in a 
northerly direction. On the 26th of August, then, the 4th 
army took the road to the north, whilst the 3d marched 
to Clermont (en Argonne). To support these, and to 
prevent any possible dash of the French towards Metz, 
the 3d and 9th corps were detached from the investing 
army to Etain. On the 27th a detachment of the Saxon 
cavalry, commanded by Count Lippe, surprised the 12th 
regiment of Chasseurs near Buzancy ; beat them after a 
hard fight ; slew many of them ; and caused a consider- 
able panic in the French army. The Germans only fell 
back when two French corps moved to the support of 
their comrades. The day following, the King, who was 
at Varennes, despatched orders to the Crown Prince of 
Saxony to take with his army a defensive position on the 
left bank of the Meuse. He was however empowered, in 
case he should not find overwhelming numbers in front of 
him, to occupy the road between Vouzier and Stenay, 

Movements of the Germans. 289 

advancing thence to Beaumont. The following day, the 
29th, the Crown Prince despatched the 3d corps to occupy 
this road. At Nouart, his advanced guard came suddenly 
upon the rear-guard of the French, and a fight ensued 
which lasted till evening, and ended in the defeat of the 
latter. On the body of a French staff-officer, there was 
found a plan of the operations which the French were 
intending to execute. After studying this, the German 
commander decided that the right wing of the 4th army 
should push on at once to Stenay, supported by the ist 
Bavarian corps, which formed the right wing of the 3d 
army ; that that army, with three corps and the Wiirtem- 
berg division, should move on Le Chene, whilst the 6th 
corps should serve as a reserve behind the left wing. It 
was hoped to catch the French army ranged between 
Stenay and Le Chene. 

On the 30th of August, the advancing German columns 
surprised the 5th corps (de Failly's) in camp before 
Beaumont, threw it into the greatest confusion, drove 
it from its position, and went on to attack the 7th and 
1 2th corps. These the Germans, after a bloody fight, 
forced back on the road to Carignan, thus compelling the 
Marshal to retreat on Sedan. On receiving this informa- 
tion, the King directed that whilst, on the 31st, the 4th 
army should compel the French left wing to fall back in 
an easterly direction, the 3d army should attack the French, 
if they should be still on the left bank of the Meuse, and, 
operating against their right wing, should hem them in 
in the narrow space between that river and the Belgian 
frontier. But M'Mahon had no thought of taking a posi- 
tion which would probably have compelled him to violate 
the soil of a neutral country. He marched that night into 
Sedan, and ranged his troops so as to meet the German at- 
tack the following morning. Expecting the attack to come 


290 The Eve of the Battle. 

from the east, he placed there his strongest force, his right 
wing was at Bazeilles, resting on the Meuse, the left was at 
Illy. The ground in front of his main defence was naturally 
strong, the entire front being covered by the Givonne rivu- 
let, and the slopes to that rivulet, on the French side of it. 
The possibility that the French marshal would accept 
battle at Sedan, had been considered at the German head- 
quarters on the night of the 31st, and arrangements had 
been made to meet his wishes. The army of the Crown 
Prince of Saxony (the fourth army) occupied the right of the 
German forces, the Bavarian corps formed the centre, and 
the Prussians the left wing. The advanced troops of the 
army were ranged in the following order. On the right 
stood the 1 2th corps, then the 4th Prussian corps, the 
Prussian guards, and finally the 4th cavalry division, their 
backs to Remilly. From this point they were linked to 
the 1st and 2d Bavarian corps, opposite Bazeilles ; they, 
in turn, to the nth and 5th corps ; and they, at Dom-le- 
Mesnil, to the Wiirtembergers. The 6th Prussian corps 
was placed in reserve between Attigny and Le Chene. 

One word, and one only, as to the nature of the 
ground on which the impending battle was to be fought. 
Sedan lies in the most beautiful part of the valley of the 
Meuse, amid terraced heights, covered with trees, and, 
within close distance, the villages of Donchery, Iges, 
Villette, Glaire, Daigny, Bazeilles, and others, Along 
the Meuse, on the left bank, ran the main road from 
Donchery through Frenois, crossing the river at the 
suburb Torcy, and there traversing Sedan. The char- 
acter of the locality may best be described as a ground 
covered with fruit gardens and vineyards, narrow streets 
shut in by stone walls, the roads overhung by forests, the 
caress from which was in many places steep and abrupt. 
Such was the ground. One word now as to the troops. 

The Armies before Sedan. 291 

The German army before Sedan counted, all told, 
240,000 men; the French 130,000. But the disparity in 
numbers was the least of the differences between the two 
armies. The one was flushed with victory, the other dis- 
spirited by defeat. The one had absolute confidence in 
their generals and their officers, the other had the most 
supreme contempt for theirs. The one had marched from 
Metz on a settled plan, to be modified according to cir- 
cumstances, the drift of which was apparent to the 
meanest soldier ; the other had been marched hither and 
thither, now towards Montmedy, now towards Paris, then 
again back towards Montmedy, losing much time ; the 
men eager for a pitched battle, then suddenly surprised 
through the carelessness of their commanders, and com- 
pelled at last to take refuge in a town from which there 
was no issue. There was hardly an officer of rank who 
knew aught about the country in which he found himself. 
The men were longing to fight to the death, but they, 
one and all, distrusted their leaders. It did not tend, 
moreover, to the encouragement of the army to see the 
now phantom Emperor, without authority to command 
even a corporal's guard, dragged about the country, more 
as a pageant than a sovereign. He, poor man, was much 
to be pitied. He keenly felt his position, and longed for 
the day when he might, in a great battle, meet the glori- 
ous death which France might accept as an atonement 
for his misfortunes. 

The battle began at daybreak on the morning of the 
ist of September. Under cover of a brisk artillery fire, 
the Bavarians advanced, and opened, at six o'clock, a 
very heavy musketry fire on Bazeilles. The masonry 
buildings of this village were all armed and occupied, 
and they were defended very valiantly. The defenders 
drove back the enemy as they advanced and kept 

292 The Battle of Sedan. 

them at bay for two hours. Then the Saxons came 
up to the aid of the Bavarians, and forced the first posi- 
tion. Still the defence continued, and the clocks were 
striking ten when the Bavarians succeeded in entering 
the place. Even then a house-to-house defence prolonged 
the battle, and it was not until every house but one ^ 
had been either stormed or burnt, that the Germans 
could call the village, or the ruins which remained of it, 
their own. Meanwhile, on the other points of their de- 
fensive position ; at Fioing, St Menges, Fleigneux, Illy, 
and, on the extreme left, at Iges, where a sharp bend of 
the Meuse forms a peninsula of the ground round which 
it slowly rolls ; the French had been making a gallant 
struggle. In their ranks, even in advance of them, 
attended finally by a single aide-de-camp, all the others 
having been killed, was the Emperor, cool, calm, and full 
of sorrow, earnestly longing for the shell or the bullet which 
should give a soldier's finish to his career. M'Mahon, 
too, was there, doing all that a general could do to en- 
courage his men. The enemy were, however, gradually 
but surely making way. To hedge the French within the 
narrowest compass, the 5th and nth corps of the third 
army had crossed the Meuse to the left of Sedan, and 
were marching now to roll up the French left. But 
before their attack had been felt, an event had occurred 
full of significance for the French army. 

Early in the day, whilst yet the Bavarians were 
fighting to get possession of Bazeilles, Marshal M'Mahon 
was so severely wounded that he had to be carried from 
the field into Sedan. He made over the command of 
the army to General Ducrot. That general had even 
before recognised the impossibility of maintaining the 

' The house is called 'A la derniere Cartouche,' and is the subject of 
De Neuville's splendid painting. 

Wimpffen assiunes Conniiand. 293 

position before Sedan against the superior numbers of 
the German army, and had seen that the one chance of 
saving his army was to fall back on Mezieres. He at 
once, then, on assuming command, issued orders to that 
effect. But it was already too late. The march by the 
defile of St Albert had been indeed possible at any time 
during the night or in the very early morning. But it was 
now no longer so. The German troops swarmed in the 
plains of Donchery, and the route by Carignan could 
only be gained by passing over the bodies of a more 
numerous and still living foe. Still Ducrot had given the 
order, and the staff officers did their utmost to cause 
it to be obeyed. The crowded streets of Sedan were 
being vacated, when suddenly the orders were counter- 
manded. General Wimpffen had arrived from Paris 
the previous day to replace the incapable De Failly in 
command of the 5th corps, carrying in his pocket an 
order from the minister of war to assume the com- 
mand-in-chief in the event of any accident to M'Mahon. 
The Emperor had no voice in the matter, for, 
whilst the regency of the Empress existed, he no 
longer represented the government. The two generals 
met, and after a somewhat lively discussion, Ducrot 
was forced to acknoA'ledge the authority of the Minister. 
Wimpffen then assumed command. His first act was 
to countermand the order to retreat on Mezieres, and 
to direct the troops to reassume the positions they had 
occupied when M'Mahon had been wounded. This 
order was carried out as far as was possible. 

Meanwhile the Germans were pressing more and 
more those positions. About midday the Guards, having 
made their way step by step, each one bravely contested, 
gave their hand to the left wing of the 3d army. I'jicn 
Illy and Floing, which had been defended with extra- 

294 Vain Efforts of Wimpffen. 

ordinary tenacity, as the keys of the advanced French 
position, were stormed. The conquest of those heights 
completed the investment of Sedan. There was now no 
possible egress for the French. Their soldiers retreated 
into the town and the suburbs, whilst 500 German guns 
hurled their missiles, their round shot and their shells, 
against the walls and the crowded masses behind them. 
Vainly then did Wimpffen direct an assembly in mass 
of his men to break through the serried columns of the 
enemy. In the disordered state of the French army the 
thing was impossible. The Emperor, who had courted 
death in vain, recognised the truth, and, desirous to spare 
the sacrifice of life produced by the continued cannonade, 
ordered, on his own responsibility, the hoisting of a white 
flag on the highest point of the defences, as a signal of 
surrender. But the firing still continued, and Wimpffen, 
still bent on breaking through, would not hear of surrender. 
Then Napoleon, his heart bleeding at the continued 
slaughter, despatched his chief aide-de-cainp, General 
Reille, with a letter to the King of Prussia, in which he 
wrote that ' not having found death at the head of his 
troops, he surrendered his sword to his Majesty.' King 
William replied that he accepted the sword, and begged 
him to send some fully authorised officer to arrange re- 
garding the capitulation. That same evening, about a 
quarter to eight o'clock, Wimpffen, who had been con- 
verted to the opinion that further resistance was im- 
possible, after a conference with the Emperor, rode out 
to concert with Moltke and Bismarck the conditions they 
were willing to accept. He found them at the chateau 
of Bellevue, near Donchery. The interview was very 
painful for the French general. He had but to hear the 
decision of the Prussian leaders, and to accept it. The 
decision was a very simple one. It had but one clause; 

The French Army surrenders. 295 

that the French officers and soldiers should surrender as 
prisoners of war, with arms and baggage. Vainly for 
three hours did Wimpffen exert all his eloquence to 
obtain better terms. The only concession he could obtain 
was that the officers who should sign an agreement, on 
their honour, not to serve against Germany during the 
war, should be allowed to return to their homes. 

The following day these conditions were more for- 
mally accepted. The Emperor delivered his sword to 
the King of Prussia, and was sent to Wilhelmshohe as 
a prisoner. 88,000 men (including one marshal, thirty- 
nine generals, and 3230 other officers) with 10,000 horses, 
4000 cannon, seventy mitrailleuses, and an enormous 
quantity of stores fell into the hands of the victors. 
One of the great armies of France had suddenly been 
wiped out of existence. 

Whose was the fault? Impartial history will not 
hesitate to charge the entire responsibility to those short- 
sighted politicians who, to save a dynasty, refused to 
admit within the defences of Paris an army which, well 
commanded, would have prevented the ultimate capitu- 
lation, but preferred to send it to certain destruction. 
It is surely fair to denounce such a policy as ' infamous. 
It is pleasant to record that it brought no advantage 
to its authors. 



It seemed as though there were nothing left for 
France to do but to bow down before her enemy and 
surrender. She had lost two great armies, the one 
closely blockaded in Metz ; the other surrendered at 
Sedan. More than that, the defeat at Sedan caused in 
Paris — the Paris which had insisted on the war — a 
revolution. The dynasty which had not wanted the 
war, which had entered upon it almost under the com- 
pulsion of the Parisian mob, was expelled because that 
war — their war — had been uusuccessful. The Parisians 
vented their own shortcomings on the Bonapartes. Plow 
was Paris to defend herself against the enemy flushed 
with victory? Judging from past history, it might be 
inferred that if the French possessed a nature similar to 
that of the Prussians, she could and would do nothing. 
In 1806 the great Napoleon had conquered Prussia, 
East Prussia excepted, in a month. After the battle of 
Jena and Auerstadt, fought eight days after the declara- 
tion of war, Prussia had lain prone for the French to 
trample upon, shamefully yielding her fortresses, in many 
cases to inferior forces and without striking a blow. 
In twenty-two days after those battles it was all over 
with Prussia. And now France had received blows 
more severe and more deadly than those of Jena and 
Auerstadt : she had the consciousness that her military 


splendid Condicct of the French. 297 

system was rotten to the core ; that her superior officers 
were mostly men who had gained their positions, not 
by services in the field nor by merit, but through the 
favour of the court ; that a new system had to be in- 
augurated whilst the victorious enemy was thundering 
at the gates of her capital. These facts were recognised 
by France, by Germany, by Europe. By all, • but the 
first, further resistance was deemed impracticable. No 
one else took into consideration the difference of race 
between the conquerors and the conquered of Sedan. 
Even the leaders of the German armies reasoned as 
though the consequences of Jena must form a precedent. 
As Prussia, after one great defeat — for Jena and Auerstadt 
were but two parts of one battle, fought the same day 
and at the same hours — had fallen into a panic and 
shamefully yielded, so must France, after misfortunes 
still more deadly, follow her example and allow her 
enemy, without striking a blow, to take all that he 

But it is to the eternal glory of the French people that 
they did not follow the example of Prussia in 1806. 
Throughout the beautiful country so famed for the intel- 
lectual position achieved in the world by the children of 
its soil, there was not one cry for surrender. There was 
not even a panic. But one sound was heard, high above 
all others : ' Let us enlist; let us take to arms; the country 
must be defended.' Jules Favre, one of the Republican 
ministers who had led the assault upon, and who had 
succeeded the ministers of, the Empire, expressed only the 
universal feeling of France, when, in an interview with 
Bismarck after Sedan, he exclaimed, after listening to the 
demands for surrender of districts and fortresses by that 
statesman : ' Not one inch of our territories, not one stone 
of our fortresses will we surrender.' Under the actual cir- 

298 France rises agauist Her Enemies. 

cumstances France came very near making good those 
brave words. ^ Had Bazaine been other than Bazaine; had 
a genius and a patriot commanded the army in Metz, the 
issue of the war would, thanks to the universal patriotism of 
the French nation, been far different from that which I am 
about to record. Certainly, under those circumstances, there 
would have been no ' Refounding of the German Empire.' 

The capture of Sedan and of the army which fought 
there closed the first phase of the war. Up to that time 
the action of the Germans had been really a defensive 
action, for although they had fought on French soil, such 
action was the consequence of the early disorganisation of 
the French armies. They had assumed 'an offensive de- 
fensive attitude.' But now this was all changed. The 
offensive was no longer defensive. The enemy must be 
smitten hip and thigh. The sieges of Strasburg and Bel- 
fort must be pushed : a siege-train must be sent for ; orders 
must be given to make quick work with the fortress of 
Toul, to open the line which led from Nancy to Paris. 

But the movement on Paris did not wait for the 
accomplishment of these designs. On the 31st of August 
and the ist of September, the day before the battle of Sedan, 
Bazaine had made a serious attempt to break out from 
Metz by assailing the German troops posted on the right 
bank of the Moselle. This attempt, called by the French 
the battle of St Barbe, by the Germans of Noisseville, was 
of a very determined character. The French, marching 
from the fortress early on the morning of the 31st, took 
possession of Colombcy, and developed their masses in 
front of it. For some reason they did not at once hurry 

^ Of more than one battle it might be said, as a distinguished German offi- 
cer wrote of the Battle of Worth : ' We were within an ace of losing the battle ; 
but the French did not know it.' Vide Major Henderson's lecture in the 
Royal United Service Institution Journal for August 1892. 

Bazaine fails to break out froiii Metz. 299 

to the attack. Before them stood the troops commanded 
by General Manteuffel, 36,000 infantry, 4800 cavahy, and 
138 guns, watched from the other bank by the army of 
Prince Frederic Charles, ready to send reinforcements to 
any point where they might be required. It was not till 
four o'clock that Bazaine, who had brought out all his 
available troops, attacked the fewer but very strongly 
posted troops of the enemy, and by half-past six had 
succeeded in wresting from them the village of Noisseville 
and the large brewery to the south of it. Thence he 
pushed forward, taking Montoy, Coinc)'-, other hamlets, 
and, at nine o'clock, Servigny. But there their successes 
terminated. Their many efforts to force their way into 
Poix and Failly were repulsed. At ten o'clock the 
Germans retook Servigny, but, pressing on against Noisse- 
ville again and again, they were always driven back with 
loss. Meanwhile, considerable reinforcements had joined 
Manteuffel from the left bank by St Barbe and Marlo)-- 
Charly, whilst a brigade standing idle at Courcelles was 
pushed against Ogy. Aided by these troops, which in- 
creased his army to 69,000 infantry and 290 guns, Man- 
teuffel, early the following morning, covering his movements 
by a strong and continued artillery fire, renewed his attack 
on Noisseville, and by nine o'clock had recovered it and 
all the places he had lost the previous evening. The 
P^rench then, baffled and discouraged, re-entered Metz. 
I cannot resist the impression that they were not led with 
the vigour necessary to insure success. It would surely 
have been better to sacrifice every man than to have 
returned to a position which deprived France of her 
chief army. 

Meanwhile other German troops were pressing forward 
on the road to Paris. On the 5th of September the King of 
Prussia entered Rheims. On the 8th Laon surrendered ; 

300 Resources of Paris. 

and, on the 15th, the advanced troops of the 3d and 4th 
armies halted within three hours of the capital of France, 
making a half-circle round its defences. 

The revolution had brought to the head of affairs in 
Paris a certain General Trochu. It required, it must be 
admitted, a man of strong character and supreme genius 
to dominate at such an epoch the fickle population of 
that city, and Trochu, though possessing only second- 
rate abilities, was essentially a charlatan. He could talk 
big, could profess a confidence which he did not feel, and 
promise success which, by such a man as he was, was not 
to be attained. The resources which, within the defences, 
he could oppose to the German armies were not very 
formidable. He had not, alas, the army of 130,000 men 
which had been sent to certain destruction at Sedan. But 
he had the 13th corps under General Vinoy, and the 14th 
under General Renault, and 18,000 marines, excellent 
soldiers, a total of 88,000 regular troops. He had also 
in the camps of Vincennes and St Maur 100,000 Garde- 
Mobiles, only very imperfectly disciplined ; 10,000 volun- 
teers from the provinces, resolute men, prepared to give 
their lives for their country ; the National Guard, composed 
of sixty old and a hundred and ninety-four new battalions 
which, with other miscellaneous volunteers of Paris, 
numbered perhaps 200,000 men, not, however, thoroughly 
to be depended upon. Altogether the defenders numbered 
about 400,000, but of these only the 88,000 regular troops 
and the 10,000 volunteers from the provinces could be 
reckoned as trustworthy soldiers. At a later period the 
trustworthy defenders were augmented by about 122,000 
additional men. 

Amongst those who, escaped from Sedan, had come 
to Paris was General Ducrot. The German authorities 
assert that he had been released after the battle of that 

Plan of Defetice. 301 

name on giving his word of honour that he would remain 
at Pont-a-Mousson, and take no further part in the war. 
This charge Ducrot ahvays indignantly denied, and cer- 
tainly it has never been proved. To him Trochu com- 
mitted the command of the second army, and it was at 
the head of that army that he was the first to come in 
contact with the German assailers of Paris. The first 
army of defence, commanded by General Thomas, con- 
sisted of the National Guard ; Ducrot's of the regular 
troops ; whilst a third army, composed of seven volunteer 
divisions, was given to General Vinoy. The object of 
General Trochu was that the second army should break 
through the lines of the investing army, whilst the first 
army should occupy the defensive works of the city and 
the forts, and the third should divert the enemy's attention 
by breaking out at other points. At a later period the 
unmarried men of the National Guard were formed into 
separate battalions and employed as soldiers of the line. 

Space will not permit me to recount in detail all the 
minute events of the siege which followed. It must suffice 
to record that, on the 15th of September, Ducrot made a 
vigorous attempt to prevent the complete investment of 
the city by attacking the Germans on the south front on 
the left bank of the Seine. The engagement took place 
at Secaux, between Petit-Bicetre and Chatillon. The 2d 
Bavarian corps had crossed the Seine at Villeneuve-St- 
Georges, when, between Secaux, Villejuif, and Montrouge, 
it came upon three divisions of Ducrot's army. Supported 
by the 5th Prussian army corps, which, under the com- 
mand of the Crown Prince of Prussia, was marching on 
Versailles, the Bavarians drove the French from the 
heights of Plcssis-Piquet, and forced them to take shelter 
behind the southern forts. Some intrenchmcnts which 
the French had thrown up at Moulin-lc-Tour, seven guns, 

302 Failure of the Sorties from Paris. 

and about 300 prisoners fell into the hands of the victors. 
After this the 3d German army had no difficulty in esta- 
blishing itself in a position embracing the southern and 
south-eastern front of the city, from Sevres to the Marne ; 
the 4th army faced the north-east and northern front, the 
cavalry the west front, so far as the windings of the Seine 
would permit it. On the 5th of October the Crown 
Prince took up his headquarters at Versailles, those of the 
King being at Ferrieres, the seat of the Paris Rothschilds. 
Here took place, on the 19th October, the famous inter- 
view between the French foreign minister, Jules Favre, 
and Bismarck, in which the former made his declaration 
that France would surrender neither one inch of her 
territories nor one stone of her fortresses. The interview 
remained without result. 

Meanwhile, the fortress of Toul had surrendered to 
the Germans on the 24th of September. Strasburg, 
after a siege of six weeks, surrendered to vastly superior 
numbers, after it had seen its lunettes taken, and a 
practicable breach effected, on the eve of the comple- 
tion of the preparations to storm it, on the 27th Sep- 
tember. German troops were thus made available for 
other enterprises. 

The investment of Paris was completed by the end 
of September. The German position remained, however, 
essentially defensive. The chiefs of the army had to 
await the arrival of the siege-train before they could 
begin their active operations. On the 30th of September, 
General Vinoy made the second sortie from the south- 
front, but after a fight of six hours' duration he was 
forced back. Then, for a time, the French contented 
themselves with a continuous artillery fire from the 
forts. That from the fort on Mont-Valerien, armed 
with marine-guns of heavy calibre, greatly incommoded 

Bazaiiie surrender's. 303 

the left wing of the 3d army. The forts on the southern 
side, Issy, Vauvres, Montrouge, Bicetre and Ivry ; Fort 
Charenton on the south front ; the forts on the east 
front, and the redoubts connecting them all, kept up 
a fire which prevented a close approach of the enemy. 
On the 13th of October took place the third sortie, 
again from the southern face, only to be repulsed : on 
the 22d, a fourth, from Mont-Valerien, under General 
Vinoy, with the same result. By this time the German 
troops, freed by the conquest of Toul and Strasburg, 
had come into line. Others were to be expected, for 
the Germans were besieging Neu-Breisach and Verdun ; 
were blockading Pfaizburg and Bitsche, and were march- 
ing to besiege Bel fort. 

On the 2 1 St, the day of their fourth sortie under Vinoy, 
the cannonade from Mont-Valerien set fire to St Cloud, 
which was destroyed. Just a week later, a fifth sortie 
was made on the northern assailants. They succeeded 
in driving the Prussians from Le Bourget, and occupy- 
ing it. But two days later, the 30th, the Prussian guards 
recovered it, after a fight which lasted several hours, 
and which cost many men to the attackers and the 

It is impossible to leave this month of October 
without recording an event which was fatal to the 
hopes which many Frenchmen still entertained of ulti- 
mate success. On the 27th of October Marshal Bazaine 
surrendered Metz and his whole army, consisting of three 
marshals of France, 6,000 generals and officers, and 
173,000 fighting men, to the German besiegers. The 
plea he assigned was the failure of provisions for so 
large a force. It is doubtful, however, whether such 
a plea can be accepted as justification for an act which 
dealt so deadly a blow to France ; more than doubtful 

304 The Stirrender of Metz. 

whether Bazaine had done all that a general could do 
for the preservation of his army and the destruction 
of that of the enemy ; certain that political consider- 
ations — for Bazaine was a strong supporter of the 
Bonaparte dynasty and hated the faction which ruled 
in Paris — greatly swayed the mind of the general. 
Subsequently to the great sortie of Noisseville (31st 
August), he had made but two feeble attempts, on the 
27th of September and the 7th of October, to break out. 
Since the 24th of September he had entered, through a 
certain Regnier, into secret negotiations with the German 
commander, which had for their object the conclusion 
of peace, combined with the free departure from Metz 
of his army to restore the imperial authority. With 
the same object he had, on the 25th of September, 
despatched General Bourbaki to England on a mission 
to the Empress, and on the 12th of October his chief 
of the staff. General Boyer, to the German headquarters 
at Versailles. But all his plans were baffled. The 
opinion expressed by some of his generals, that the 
army would not lend itself to such a course was the 
main cause of the failure of the negotiations. Dis- 
appointed in his hopes, then, Bazaine, on the 
27th of October, surrendered.^ This act made the 
Germans masters of one of the strongest fortresses 
in Europe, with 800 heavy guns, 102 mitrailleuses, and 

' After the conclusinn of the war, Bazaine was brought to a court-martial 
(October 6, 187 1). After a patient trial which lasted two months, he was 
declared, the 6th December, guilty of treason, and sentenced to death and 
to degradation of rank. The then President of the Republic, Marshal 
M'Mahon, commuted the death-sentence into one of imprisonment for 
twenty years. Confined in the fort of the island St Marguerite, near Cannes, 
Bazaine escaped, and lived in Spain till his death. Tliere can be no question 
that Bazaine, as a general, was quite unequal to the task imposed upon 

Gaiiibctta. 305 

300,000 Chassepots, and placed at the disposal of the King 
the entire blockading army of Prince Frederic Charles 
for employment in the north and south of France, 
whilst he himself should push the siege of Paris with 

Amongst the members of the government which had 
tumultuously wrested the administration from the Empress- 
Regent was a very eloquent advocate, named Gambetta. 
A man of great energy, determination, insight, and will- 
power, Gambetta had recognised in the early days of the 
siege the necessity of organising and utilising, outside of 
Paris, the energies which the disasters of France had 
roused in her sons. Before the complete investment of 
Paris, some of the members of the administration had 
been sent to Tours, to organise there the national move- 
ment, but it was felt, by none more strongly than by 
Gambetta, that they required an energetic head, and he 
resolved himself to assume the direction, from Tours, of 
the national resources. No other means of quitting Paris 
being available, he embarked on a balloon on the 7th of 
October, reached Tours, assumed there the ministry of 
war, and became practically dictator of France. Thence 
he issued a proclamation to the people of France, urging 
them to continue their resistance to the bitter end, and 
directed that all men, capable of bearing arms, should lend 
their hands to the work, and should join the troops of the 
line at Tours. In this way he formed an army of the 
north, and an army of the Loire, and, later, an army of 
the east. In all respects he displayed a fertility of re- 
source which astonished the world. He obtained arms, 
uniforms, munitions, and other necessaries from foreign 
countries, especially from England. He bestowed the 
greatest pains in selecting as generals of the new levies 
men who should be real soldiers. P^aidherbc, Aurclles 


3o6 The Rising of the Provinces. 

de Paladines, Chanzy, were his creations. Under his 
inspiring influence the war in the provinces assumed a 
very serious complexion. France had responded nobly to 
the call he had made upon her people. Early reverses 
gave vigour to the new levies, and they fought with energy 
against the Bavarians under Von der Than at Arthenay 
and Orleans, and against the division Wittich at Chateau- 
dun and Chartres. But he was fighting against increasing 
odds. Soon, every day brought reinforcements to the 
Germans. The surrender of Metz enabled them to con- 
centrate their resources to nip in the bud a movement 
which, if made whilst the Germans had still been detained 
before that fortress might have compelled the raising of 
the siege of Paris. When Metz surrendered, the King, 
not quite sensible of the danger to be apprehended from 
the rising of the departments, directed Manteuffel to 
assume command of the ist army, and proceed with it 
in the direction of Orleans, whilst Prince Frederic Charles 
should march southwards with a portion of the 2d, sending 
the other portion to Versailles to strengthen the forces 
besieging Paris. The Bavarians, under Von der Than, 
was likewise ordered to operate on the Loire. 

Meanwhile, Gambetta had raised the Loire army to a 
strength of 150,000 men. The command of it he had 
given to General Aurelle de Paladines. His object was 
to recover Orleans and to open the road to Paris. In the 
beginning of November Aurelle pressed along the right 
bank of the Loire, in the hope of retaking that city. Von 
der Than had taken a strong position at Coulmiers, 
barring the way. There, on the 9th, Aurelle attacked him, 
and, getting the better of a very fierce fight, forced him 
on the loth to retreat on Toury, twenty-seven miles 
to the south-east of Chartres, to join there the division 
Wittich and the cavalry division of the Crown Prince of 

The Ger77ians p7'evail by TJieir Numbers. 307 

Saxony, The same day the Germans evacuated Orleans, 
leaving open the road to Paris. The consternation of the 
German leaders at Versailles was considerable, and, in great 
haste, they despatched from before Paris two divisions to 
keep at bay the army of Aurelle until Prince Frederic 
Charles should arrive with the main portion of the 2d 
army. Aurelle, when he heard of this disposition of the 
enemy's troops, had already begun his march to Paris. 
But, learning the position of the two German divisions 
above referred to, strengthened by the 5 th army corps 
under General Voigts-Rhetz, he turned aside to attack 
them at Beaune-la-Rolande. Defeated there, he fell back 
on Orleans, and took a position in front of the woods 
near that city. Attacked there on the 3d December, he 
was compelled to fall back within the city. The follow- 
ing day the heads of the two German armies of the 
north and the west, pushed their way into the suburbs. 
The French then, in virtue of a convention made with the 
German commander, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg- 
Schwerin, evacuated the city, which the Germans entered 
by agreement after midnight. The French fell back 
towards Tours, followed by the enemy's cavalry. The 
Germans held Orleans till the end of the war, making 
it the headquarters of operations in that part of France. 

Gambetta, upon the result of the movements of 
Aurelle, removed that officer from the command, and, 
dividing the Loire army into two parts, confided the 
direction of one to General Bourbaki, but recently re- 
turned from his mission to the Empress Eugenie in 
England, the other to General Chanzy. Bourbaki took 
a position at Bourges, and awaited there the army of 
Prince Frederic Charles, which he was aware was march- 
ing in his direction. Chanzy, meanwhile, had occupied 
Beaugcncy. Against him marched the army commanded 

3o8 Fighting in the Provinces. 

by the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg. It seemed that 
the final success of the war depended upon the result of 
the two attacks which would follow these movements. 
But the German chiefs at Versailles resolved to leave 
Bourbaki for the moment and concentrate all their 
energies against Chanzy. They sent orders to that 
effect to Frederic Charles. Leaving a portion of his 
troops to watch Bourbaki, the Red Prince marched with 
the 9th and loth corps to support the Grand Duke. 
Meanwhile Chanzy had obtained an advantage over the 
advanced corps of the west army at Meung (December 7), 
but on the following day was beaten at Beaugcncy by the 
Grand Duke, and fell back on the forest of Marchenoir. 
He retook, however, the offensive on the loth, but after 
a fierce artillery combat was forced again to fall back. 
He then marched on Blois, followed by a corps of 
the enemy, which, on the 13th, occupied that city. 
Chanzy then marched on Vendome. At that place 
Gambetta joined him and held a council of war, with 
the result that Vendome was evacuated, and the army 
fell back on Le Mans. The Grand Duke followed, beat 
the rearguard of the French at La Moree, and occupied 
Vendome on the i6th. He then pressed on, in two 
divisions, against Tours and Le Mans. The first sur- 
rendered after a feeble opposition (December 21), but, 
in obedience to instructions, the Germans did not enter 
the town until a month later (January 19), but contented 
themselves with destroying the railway to Le Mans and 
cantoning in the neighbourhood. Chanzy attempted 
once again to resume the offensive near Vendome 
(December 31), but was repulsed with loss. 

Meanwhile, in the north. General Faidherbe had been 
appointed by Gambetta to succeed General Farre in 
command of the army which had been defeated by the 

The Result of the Rising in the Provinces. 3c 9 

Prussians at Amiens the 20th of November. Faidherbe 
took a very favourable position on the Hallue, with about 
54,000 men, mostly raw levies, when he was attacked, the 
23rd of December, by Manteuffel with two divisions, and 
forced to fall back behind Arras. Manteuffel followed on 
the 26th to Bapaume, and despatched thence a consider- 
able portion of his army to invest Peronne. Faidherbe 
took advantage of this diversion to attack the Germans 
at Bapaume (January 2). Repulsed that day, he renewed 
his assault the day following, and after a very severe fight, 
in which the Germans suffered at least as much as their 
assailants, fell back towards the close of the day on Arras 
and Douai. Peronne fell on the loth. Faidherbe then 
attempted to make his way southward, but he was caught 
on the 17th by Von Goebcn at Beauvois, thrown back 
on St Ouentin, and there, on the 19th, completely de- 

It would require too much space to describe how the 
other partisan leaders of the new levies were, one after 
another, driven into inaction. It must suffice to record 
that General von Kamecke, who had belonged to the 
army before Metz, forced the surrender of Diedenhofen 
on November 24th ; of Montmedy, December 14th ; of La 
Fere, November 27th. General von Sendcn, who replaced 
him early in December, took Rocroy by a co7ip-dc-niain, 
January 15th, Mezieres having previously surrendered^ 
January 2d. Colonel von Krcnsky captured Longwy 
the 25th of January. Previously, Verdun had capitulated^ 
November 8th, and Pfalzburg, December 12th. These 
captures meant the taking of many prisoners, many guns, 
and many stores. Belfort, besieged from November 3rd, 
still held out, and did so until the end of the war. So, 
likewise, did Bitsche. 

So far the operations of the armies raised at the call 

3 lo Movements of General Boiwbaki. 

of Gambetta had failed. The too early surrender of Melz 
had foiled plans which, had Bazaine been able to hold on 
a fortnight longer, might have compelled the raising of 
the siege of Paris. Nor was Bourbaki more successful. 
Commissioned by Gambetta to march with the 15th, i8th, 
20th and 24th army-corps, in all nearly 1 50,000 men, to 
effect a junction with the force which Garibaldi had raised 
to assist France, and to march them to the relief of 
Belford ; to recover Alsace and to break the communica- 
tions of the German army before Paris and the Rhine ; 
Bourbaki was compelled, by a demonstration made 
against his flank by General Werder (January 9) to sus- 
pend his forward march. This delay gave Werder time to 
reach the intrenched and partly-armed (with siege guns) 
position, covering twenty-one miles, from Frahier by way 
of Echanne and Luze, to the German headquarters 
at Hericourt; thence southwards to Montbeliard and 
Delle, commanding the road by which Bourbaki must 
advance. In this position Werder repulsed the fierce 
attacks made upon him by the French the 15th, i6th and 
17th of January. The position of Bourbaki had now be- 
come serious. Before him was Werder in a position he 
could not force. Marching to attack his left flank was 
Manteuffel, with a newly-organised army of old soldiers. 
He resolved then to retreat on Besan^on. But Manteuffel, 
marching with great haste, rendered this task very difficult. 
He accomplished it, however, only to find himself still 
more embarrassed. The march over the lough paths of 
Cote d'Or and the Jura with scanty supplies, hemmed in 
by the foe, hindered by ice and snow, had completely de- 
moralised his raw levies. A march of ten days rendered 
the condition of his army most deplorable. But worse 
was in store for him. Whilst at Besan^on, urgently 
occupied with the cares of his army, he had received, the 

Paris is left to its Oiv 7 Reso2trcfs. 3 1 1 

evening of the 27th of January, a letter from Gambctta, 
informing him that he and the other generals Gambctta 
had nominated were publicly spoken of as traitors. In 
despair alike at the position of his army and at this 
odious calumny, Bourbaki made over the command of his 
army to General Clinchant, and attempted to commit 
suicide. The attempt failed, but Bourbaki was carried with 
the army into Switzerland, whither Clinchant marched, 
and where, surrendering to the neutral powers whose 
territories it had invaded, it was disarmed. 

The attempts made by Gambetta and his generals to 
raise the siege of Paris having thus been foiled, there 
remained, then, to the government of that city, pressed 
hard by the besieging Germans, but the attempt to 
secure the best terms possible of surrender. The many 
sorties made by her defenders had been repulsed ; the 
hope by which the spirits of her defenders had been so 
long buoyed up were vanishing fast : famine was ap- 
proaching with giant strides ; the strong places out'^ide 
the circle of her defences were falling one after another; 
the fire of the enemy was, by the nearer approach of their 
troops, becoming more concentrated and more severe. 
Peace must be had. On January 28th, then, there was 
concluded at Versailles an armistice for three weeks. 
Then a national assembly was summoned to Bordeaux 
to consider how peace might be restored. In that 
assembly M. Thiers received full administrative powers, 
including the power of nominating his own ministers. 
He himself, with Jules Favre, undertook the negotiations 
with Bismarck. To ensure the success of those negotia- 
tions the armistice was twice prolonged. This was done 
at the instance of Thiers, for the conditions insisted upon 
by Bismarck were hard, and the French statesman 
struggled with all his energies to induce him to abate his 

312 The Peace and its Conditions. 

demands. Especially did he strive to save Metz, or, at 
least, to receive Luxemburg in compensation. 

But his endeavours were fruitless. The utmost that 
Bismarck would do was not to insist upon securing the 
still unconquered Belfort. Despairing of moving him 
further, Thiers and Favre gave way on the 24th of Feb- 
ruary, and signed the preliminaries of peace. They were 
(i) the transfer to Germany of the north-east portion 
of Lorraine, with Metz and Diedenhofen, and of Alsace, 
Belfort excepted : (2) the payment to Germany by 
France of one milliard' of francs in 1871, and four 
milliards in the three years following ; (3) the Germans 
to begin to evacuate French territory immediately 
after the ratification of the treaty ; Paris and its forts 
on the left bank of the Seine and certain depart- 
ments at once ; the forts on the right bank after the 
ratification and the payment of the first half milliard. 
After the payment of two milliards the German occupa- 
tion of the departments Marne, Ardennes, Upper Marne, 
Meuse, the Vosges, and Meurthe, and the fortress of 
Belfort ^ should cease. Interest at five per cent, to be 
charged on the milliards remaining unpaid from the date 
of ratification ; (4) the German troops remaining in 
France to make no requisitions on the departments in 
which they were located, but to be fed at the cost of 
France ; (5) the inhabitants of the sequestered provinces 
to be allowed a certain fixed time in which to make their 
choice between the two countries ; (6) all prisoners to be 
at once restored ; (7) a treaty embodying all these terms 
to be settled at Brussels. It was further arranged that 

' A milliard is one thousand millions. 

^ The Germans had failed to capture Belfort, but, on the conclusion of the 
armistice, the French government had ordered the garrison to capitulate 
with all the honours of war. 

The Treaty eventually Signed. 


the German army should not occupy Paris, but that the 
Emperor — for such he had become — should content him- 
self with marching through a portion of the city. 

On the 28th of February Thiers laid these conditions 
before the assembly at Bordeaux. On the ist of March 
they were accepted by 546 votes against 107. On the 
same day the Emperor and his staff, with a portion of the 
German army, entered Paris, the remainder following the 
next day, and the whole evacuating the city on the 3rd. 

The peace congress met at Brussels the 28th of March, 
but its proceedings were almost immediately suspended 
by the revolution which then broke out in Paris. When 
the French troops had put down the revolt, their leaders 
displayed some hesitation as to adhering to the con- 
ditions of the preliminary treaty. Finally, however, the 
negotiations were resumed, May 6, at Frankfort, the 
negotiators being Bismarck and Jules Favre. The de- 
finitive treaty was signed on the loth, the chief altera- 
tion in the terms being the shortening of the period for 
the payment of the idemnity. 

Thus ended a war which, although it gratified the 
pent-up wishes of German enthusiasts, most assuredly, by 
the manner of its ending, especially in the matter of the 
hard conditions insisted upon by the victors, laid the 
foundations of enmity and future warfare between the two 
most important countries of the continent. 



The successes of the German armies in 1870 had removed 
every obstacle to the carrying into effect that union of 
Germany which had been the dream of enthusiasts for 
years, and had seemed for a few months possible on the 
morrow of the revolution of 1848. Then Austria had 
stopped the way. Nor when the Prussians had triumphed 
over Southern Germany in 1866, had Bismarck felt him- 
self strong enough to push the matter to its logical issue. 
He made, it is true, an agreement with the German States 
outside of Austria for a common defence ; but the arrange- 
ment went no further. There were symptoms, indeed, dur- 
ing the years between 1866 and 1870 that Bavaria and 
Wurtemberg would gladly hail an opportunity to break the 
bonds which fettered them. But the skilful use made by 
Bismarck alike of the action, and of the invented action, of 
the Emperor Napoleon in the matter of the Hohenzollern 
candidature to the throne of Spain, in the first place ; and 
the success of Germany in the war, in the second, not only 
diminished the prejudices of Bavaria and Wurtemberg, 
but disposed the entire German nation to seize the oppor- 
tunity of the successes of 1870 to complete the union in 
the manner the most likely to satisfy the aspirations of 
the German sovereign who had contributed so largely to 
render possible those successes. The fact indeed that the 


The German Empire is refoiinded. 


victories gained had been the direct result of German 
unity of action under the guidance of Prussia forced itself 
on the minds of every thinking man in Germany ; and it 
was determined by a large majority to complete without 
delay the work begun in 1866. Baden led the way. The 
King of Bavaria was persuaded to follow. Conferences 
opened at Versailles at the end of October, and soon 
announced a favourable result. On the 15th of November 
the heads of the new imperial constitution were agreed to 
by Baden and Hesse ; on the 23rd by the King of Bavaria; 
on the 25th (at Berlin) by Wiirtemberg. Various small 
concessions, demanded by several States to save their 
dignity were granted ; but the principal articles — those 
especially which demanded one diplomatic representation, 
one assembly for all the States of the union, and one 
supreme command of the army — were insisted upon by 
Prussia, The combined States proposed to assume the 
title of the German Empire. Its chief was to be the King 
of Prussia, with the title of German Emperor. 

When the question came to be considered in the 
assemblies of the several States there was not found quite 
the same unanimity. The parliaments of Hesse, Baden, 
and Wiirtemberg indeed accepted the new constitu- 
tion without opposition. In the lower House of Bavaria, 
nearly one-third of the members voted against it.^ But 
before this debate had taken place (January 11), the matter 
had been actually concluded. On the ist of January, 1871, 
the King of Bavaria, writing on behalf of all the sovereigns 
and ruling princes of Germany, informed the King of 
Prussia that he had been unanimously chosen to be the 
first ruler of the German Empire with the title of German 
Emperor. On the 19th of the same month the acceptance 
of the dignity by the King of Prussia was proclaimed 
' The numbers were 48 .igainst 102. 


1 6 The Work of Bismarck : His Position. 

with imposing ceremony at Versailles, On that date the 
German Empire was refounded. 

More than twenty-two years have elapsed since that 
memorable ceremony. Many of the actors in it have 
disappeared. The Emperor himself, his noble-hearted 
son, whose deeds as Crown Prince of Prussia have been 
recorded in these pages ; the Red Prince ; Von Roon, 
the organiser of victory; Moltke, the great strategist; and 
many others, have been called to their last account. 
There still remains amongst his countrymen one — the man 
without whose dogged resolution, absolute want of scruple, 
fertility of resource, fiery energy, and strength of will, the 
task had been impossible. It was, empb.atically, Bis- 
marck's work. To bring it to a successful conclusion, 
he had defied alike the parliaments and the people ; 
had led his master and his country over abysses, in 
the- traversing of which, one false step would have been 
fatal. Aided a great deal, it must be admitted, by the 
wretched diplomacy of Austria, by the deterioration of 
the powers of the French Emperor, and by his sublime 
audacity, he had compelled to his will all the moral diffi- 
culties of the undertaking. Von Roon and Moltke had 
done the rest. No longer, however, is Prince Bismarck 
allowed to put forth his hand to sustain the work which 
he created. For him it had been better to die, like Von 
Roon, like Moltke, keeping to the end the confidence of 
his sovereign, than to feel himself impelled, dismissed 
from office, to pour out his grievances to every passing 
listener, to speak in terms not far removed from treason 
of the sovereign who had declined to be his pupil. Was 
it for this, he seems to mutter, that I forced on the war 
which gave Prussia Schleswig and Holstein in 1864 ; that 
I compelled unwilling Austria to declare war in 1866; 
that, by the freest circulation of exaggerated state 

IVi/l ike Work auhtre. 3 1 7 

mcnts/ I roused a bitter feeling in Germany against 
France, and excited the statesmen, and, above all, the 
mob, of Paris in 1870? — for this, that, the work accom- 
plished, an empire given to the Hohenzollerns, I might 
be cast aside like a squeezed-out orange? Well might 
these be his thoughts, for it was he who made possible 
the task of German unity, though in a manner which 
will commend itself only to those who argue that the 
end justifies the means. 

Whether the new empire will last or will crumble away 
is a question which, happily, I am not called to answer. 
But I may say that its chances of vigorous life would 
have been greater if the German negotiators of the 
treaty had not insisted upon the too great spoliation of 
their enemy. By that insistance they sowed the seeds 
of future wars ; they planted a discord which will, for 
years to come, foment the natural jealousy of neighbours. 
During the twenty-tvvo years which have elapsed, they 
have failed to conciliate the people torn unwillingly from 
their long connection with that France of which it was 
their pride and their glory to form a part. All these 
circumstances constitute difficulties which a little less 
greed would have avoided, and which may yet re-open 
the question as to whether the Refoundcd German 
Empire will emulate, in the length of its existence, 
the Empire founded by Charlemagne. 

' Vide Fyffe's ' Hisloiy of iModcrn Europe,' vol. iii. pp. 419-20. 



Albert, The Archduke, vide The War of 
1866, pages 175-S2 ; visits Paris to concert 
militarj- ooperation, 206. 

Aurelle de Paladines appointed to command 
the army of the Loire, 306 ; vide The 
Franco-German War, 306, and onwards. 

Austria, Empire of, founded in 1S04, 3 ; is 
fully occupied for eighteen months after the 
revolution of 1848 by her internal affairs, 9 ; 
for the moment seems a wreck, 10 ; recovers 
herself, 20 ; and places Prussia in a position 
of inferiority, 20-34, vide Schwarzenberg ; 
is baffled by Prussia in her attempt to enter 
the ZoUverein, 38-40 ; war of, with France 
and Ital)', 53-6 ; offers of assistance to, from 
the Prince Regent of Prussia, 54-6 ; rejects 
them, and also plans for reorganising the 
Bund, 56-7 ; bends under the pressure of 
Bismarck, 77 ; attempts to conciliate Prussia, 
79-80 ; is baffled by Bismarck, 80 ; is hood- 
winked by Bismarck on the Schleswig-Hol- 
stein question, S2-4 ; becomes the catspaw of 
Bismarck, and wages war on Denmark, 84-5 ; 
obtains by war, conjointly with Prussia, the 
cession of Holstein, Schleswig, and Lauen- 
berg, 90 ; is over-reached by Prussia, is forced 
to complain, and then is deceived into sign- 
ing the treaty of Gastein, 92-5 ; Bismarck 
forces war upon. 99-102; terms on which, 
had first obtained Venetia, 103 ; La Marmora 
proposes to buy Venetia from, 97, 104 ; the 
Emperor of, refuses to bargain away any part 
of his dominions, 104 ; the Emperor of, offers 
Venetia to Italy as the priceof her neutrality, 
but is refused. 105 ; refuses proportion made 
by Napoleon IIL to the three powers, 106; 
furious at Bismarck's intrigues, appeals to 
the Diet, which supports her, 106-7 '■, popu- 
larity of, in Germany, on the eve of the war 
of i865, no ; stupidity of the administration 
of, note to, no, vide War of 1S66, 119-18S ; 
effect in the capital of the battle of Kunig- 
gratz, 188 ; critical position of, 190 ; accepts 
the armistice of Nikolsburg and the peace 
of Prague, 190-1 ; reconciles herself with 
Hungarj', 204 ; responds favourably to the 
overtures of Napoleon, 205 ; understanding 

of, with Italy, 207 ; policy of, on the out- 
break of the Franco-German War, q.v. 


Baden, The first shock of the French Revolu- 
tion of 1848 felt at, 8 ; the courts of justice 
of, sentence Oscar Becker to twenty years 
imprisonment, 68. 

Bavaria, Effect of the Revolution of 1848 in, 
8 ; War of 1S66 in, vide War of 1866, pages 

Bazaine, JMarshal, vide Franco-German War, 
iii,-y3i, ; surrounding Metz, 303-4 and note. 

Bazeilles, position o'', 291 ; storming of, 292. 

Becker, Oscar, attempt of, to assassinate King 
William of Prussia, 68-9. 

Benedek, Ludwig von, previous career and 
character of, 117 ; campaign of, in Bohemia, 
vide War of 1S66, 132-73. 

Benedetti, Count, is sent to Nikolsburg to 
negotiate with Bismarck, 190 ; several pro- 
posals made by, and to, Bismarck, 197-201; 
vide the Hohenzollern incident, 210-21. 

Berlin, Revolutionary feeling aroused in, by 
the events, in Paris, of 1848, 11-20. 

Beust, Count, effects the reconciliation of 
Austria and Hungary, 204 ; arranges an 
alliance between Italy and Austria, 207; 
policy of, on the outbreak of the war of 
1870, 228-9. 

Beyer, General, vide the War of i866, 119-74, 
and 184-87. 

Biarritz, Meeting between Napoleon III. and 
Bismarck at, 97-8. 

Bismarck, Otto Edward Leopold, Count von, 
is appointed Chief of the Prussian ministry, 
70 ; previous career of, 70 ; character of, 73 ; 
threatens the House, and invokes the em- 
ployment of 'blood and iron,' 74; dissolves 
the parliament, 75 ; struggles daringly with 
the new one, and prorogues it, 75-7 ; gives 
the foreign policy of Prussia an aggressive 
character, 77 ; bullies Austria, and conciliates 
Russia, 77-0 ; persuades his master to reject 
the plan of Austria, 80; resolves to use the 
Schleswig-Holstein question as a lever 
against Austria, 82 ; makes a catspaw of 



Austria, 82-4 ; his first move in the game, 
84 ; causes the King, with Austria as his 
ally, to declare war against Denmark, 85 ; 
resolves to obtain the conquered provinces 
for Prussia, 92 ; the way he sets about it, 
93; the card up his sleeve, 94 ; forces Austria 
to demand that he show his hand, 94-5 ; out- 
wits Austria, and persuades her to accept the 
treaty of Gastein, 95 ; proceeds to Biarritz to 
gain Napoleon III., 97 ; gains him, 98-g ; 
arranges to sign an offensive and defensive 
treaty with Italy, 99 ; picks a quarrel with 
Austria about the duchies, 100 ; plaj-s the 
part of the wolf with the Austrian lamb, 
loi ; accuses Austria of forcing on a war, 
loi ; evasive answer of, to Count Karolyi, 
loi ; makes a bid for the support of the rest 
of Germany, 102 ; signs an offensive and de- 
fensive treaty with Italy, 102 ; plays with 
the French Emperor, 105-6, and note ; breaks 
with Austria by ordering Prussian troops to 
enter Holstein, 106 ; begins the war of i865, 
107 ; vide War of 1866, 119-88 ; how, had 
planned the war, and what he hoped to 
win by it, 192-3 ; how he played with 
Napoleon, 195-203 ; refuses Napoleon Lux- 
emburg, and breaks with him, 203-4 i plans 
of, 203-4 ) means whereby, strengthened his 
position, 207-S ; how he ' managed ' his 
master, 209, and following pages ; vide The 
HohenzoUern incident, 210-21 ; B'rance de- 
clares war against Germany, 223 ; vide 
Franco-German War, The, 222 to the end ; 
the present position of, 316-7. 

Bittenfeld, Herwarth von, previous career of, 
116-17 ; vide War of 1866, 132-173. 

Blome, Count, Austrian Minister, is com- 
pletely bamboozled by Bismarck at Gastein, 

95- . . . 

Bohemia, War of 1866 in, vide War of 1866, 

Bonin, von General, z'ide War of 1S66, 146-50. 
Bourbaki, General, is sent by Bazaine to the 

Empress Eugenie, 304, and tiote; takes a 

position at Bourges, 307 ; great difficulties 

experienced by, 310; attempts suicide, 310; 

the army of, disarmed, 311. 
Brandenberg, Count, is appointed Chief 

ISIinister m Prussia, 19 ; is sent to negotiate 

with the Czar, fails, and dies, 32. 
Bruck, Charles Louis von, attempts to guide 

the commercial policy of Austria in a right 

direction, 38 ; fails before the opposition of 

Prussia, 39-40. 
Bund, The, X'ide German'c Federation. 

Canrobert, Marshal, vide Franco - German 
War, 326 and onwards. 

Chanzy, General actions of, with the Germans, 
in 1870, 307-9. 

Charlemagne founds the Holy Roman Em- 
pire, I. 

Clam-Gallas, Count, vide War of 1866, 135- 

Clinchant, General, succeeds Bourbaki in com- 
mand of his army, which is disarmed in 
Switzerland. 311. 

Colombey, Battle of, vide Franco-German 
War, The, 257-8. 

Confederation of the Rhine, The, devised by 
Napoleon in 1806, 4 ; is accepted by the 
German princes, 4 ; composition of, 4, note ; 
advantages and disadvantages of, to France 
and Germany, 5 ; weighty French opinion 
against it, 6 ; death of, 6 ; succeeded by the 
Germanic Federation, 6. 

Coulmiers, Germans defeated at, 306. 

Crimean War, The, Negotiations which pre- 
ceded, 44-6 ; Prussia assumes a policy of 
isolation with respect to, 47 ; conclusion of, 

Custoza, Battle of, vide The War of 1866, 
pages 175-82, 

Czar Nicholas, The, assists Austria in her 
struggles with Hungary, 20 ; favours Austria 
against Prussia, 32 ; causes the Crimean 
War, 44-7. 


Danish War, The, begins, 87 ; the attack on 
Danewerke, 87 ; Prince Frederic Charles 
succeeds only by the aid of the Austrians 
under Gablenz, 80 ; Diippel besieged by 
Prince Frederic Charles, 88 ; taken, 89 ; 
Gablenz beats the Danes at Oeversee, and 
takes Schleswig, 88 ; reflections on the con- 
duct of France and England regarding, 
89-gi ; conclusion of, 91. 

Denmark, question of Schleswig-Holstein 
cause breach between, and Germany, 14 ; 
which is settled, 15-34 > 'he death of King 
Frederic of, brings it again into prominence, 
3i ; strength of the feeling in, 81-2 ; King 
Christian of, appeals to the faith of treaties, 
82 ; refuses the demands of Prussia and 
Austria, and is forced to wage war, 85 ; is 
forced, by war, to cede Holstein, Schleswig, 
and Lauenberg to Prussia and Austria, 

Dreyse, John Nicholas, invents the needle- 
gun, 41-3. 

Drouyn de Lhuys resigns oflfice because of 
the foreign policy of his master, 199. 

Ducrot, General, receives command of the 
army of Sedan on the field of battle from 
W'Mahon, who desires, too late, to march 
on Mezieres, 293 ; when he has to transfer 
the command to Wimpfi'en, 293 ; commands 
an army corps in Paris, 300 ; charged by the 
( Germans with having broken his parole, 
indignantly denies the charge, 301. 

England, reflections on the conduct of, re- 
garding the Schleswig-Holstein War, 90-1. 

Faidiierbe, General, experiences of, in the 
War of 1870, 308-9. 



Failly, De, General, vide Franco-German War, 

The, 226, and onwards. 
Falkenstein, General Vogel von, vide War of 

1866, 1 19-174, and 184-187. 
Fleischacher, General, vide War of 1866, 147. 
France, vide Napoleon III. 
Francis II., is elected Emperor of Germany, 

2 ; varied fortune of in the wars of the 
Revolution, 2 ; breaks up the Holy Roman 
Empire, and becomes Francis I., Emperor 
of Austria, 3 ; declares war against France, 

3 ; is beaten, and signs the peace of Press- 
burg, 3. 

Francis-Joseph, Emperor, becomes Emperor of 
Austria, 20 ; vide Empire of Austria. 

Franco-German War, The. France declares war 
against Germany, 222 ; state of the French 
army, 222-3 '> 'lie French Generals — Bazaine, 
224; M'Mahon, 225; Canrobert, 226; De 
Failly, 226 ; Frossard, 226 ; the French ar- 
tillery, 226 ; condition of the Prussian and 
German armies, 226-7 \ vain hope of Na- 
poleon III. to detach the minor states from 
Prussia, 227 ; France fails to obtain allies, 
exxept under the condition of a striking 
success at the outset, 228-30 ; preparations 
made by Moltke, 230 ; concentration of the 
French armies, 231 ; the Emperor's plan is 
found, for reasons assigned, to be unworkable, 
232 ; the Prince Imperial undergoes ' the 
baptism of fire ' before Saarbriicken, 233 ; 
Mohke's system of gaining intelligence keeps 
the French in a state of alarm, 233 ; a report 
reaches the French head-quarters of a defeat 
at Weissenburg, 234 ; desultory orders issued 
in consequence, 234-5 i no' communicated to 
the several corps or divisions, 234-5 > move- 
ments of M'Mahon, 235 ; Douay defeated 
at Weissenburg, 235 ; the 3d German army 
bivouacks on French ground, 236 ; M'Mahon 
orders up De Failly, who does not come, 
236 ; takes post at Worth, 236 ; is attacked 
and defeated there by the Crown Prince, 
237-8 ; position and march of the 2d German 
army corps under Prince Frederic Charles, 
239 ; he marches to concentrate at Alsenz- 
Grunstadt, 239 ; comes in touch with the 
ist army on his right, 240 ; Steinmetz con- 
centrates the istarmy at Tholey, 241 ; pushes 
on to find the Spicheren heights occupied, 
241 ; movements of General von Kamecke, 

The Battle of Spicheren. 

Description of the Spicheren plateau, 241 ; 
position at, of Frossard's corps, 242 ; is 
promised support by Bazaine, 243 ; resources 
of Frossard, 243 ; force of General Kamecke, 
244 ; attacks, and is repulsed by the French, 
244 ; renews the attack, 245 ; finds he can 
make no impression, 245 ; Frossard fails to 
take advantage of the position, 246, and 
note ; timely movement of General Laveau- 
coupet, is baffled by arrival of reinforce- 
ments, 246 ; Kamecke greatly dares, 247 ; 
progress on the Prussian left, 247 ; and at 
Stiring-Wendel, 247 ; Von Goeben arrives, 
and takes command, 247 ; the Prussians 
make progress, 248 ; fight for the Gifert wood, 
249 ; the French fall back, 249 ; possibilities 

at Stiring-Wendel, 250 ; vigorous defence of 
the Spicheren knoll by the French, 250 ; 
gallantry of General Laveaucoupet, 251, and 
note; at length the Prussians prevail, 251 ; 
why Frossard was not reinforced, 251 ; con- 
duct of Bazaine, 252 ; of General Mont- 
audon, 253 ; of Castagny, 253 ; of Metman, 
253 ; to whom the loss of the battle of 
Spicheren was due, 254. 

The Battle of Colotnbey. 

Napoleon 1 1 1, appeals to the people of Paris, 
255 ; the Parisians reply by compelling his 
ministry to resign, and giving full powers to 
the Count of Palikao, 256 ; position of three 
French army corps on right bank of the 
Moselle, 257 ; they are attacked at Colom- 
bey by General von Goltz, 257 ; and are 
forced to lose a day, 258 ; slowness of 
Bazaine's movements, 258; resolution of the 
Germans to hold on to their prey, 261-2. 

The Battle of Vionville. 

The French occupy Vionville in force, 261 ; 
Alvensleben resolves to cut them 'off from 
Verdun, 261; hesitations of ■ Bazaine, _ 262 ; 
battle of Vionville, 262-4; forces Bazaine to 
rest where he was, and cuts him off from 
Verdun, 264 ; the King of Prussia resolves 
to push his advantage to the utmost, 264-5. 

The Battle of Gravclotte. 

Force at the disposal of the King of Prussia, 
265 ; plan of battle of the, 265 ; at mid-day 
the Germans attack the left of the French 
centre, but make but little progress, 267 ; 
they mistake the French centre for the 
extreme right, 268 ; the Saxons mean- 
while take Sainte-Marie-aux-Chenes, 267 ; 
up to five o'clock the assailants have 
effected but little against the centre ; they 
fail almost equally against the French 
left ; they make, that is to say, no impres- 
sion, 269 ; at four, Steinmetz renews his 
attack on the French left, 269-70 ; but recoils 
before the French defence, 270 ; they make 
no impression on the real French left, 271 ; 
Steinmetz attacks the right of the French 
left, and the left of the French centre, but 
finds it impregnable, 271-2 ; the extreme 
French right, 272 fthe Germans prepare for 
an attack, 272-3 ; the French position there, 
273 ; the first attack practically repulsed, 
274 ; possibilities before Canrobert, 275 ; are 
practically neglected, 275 ; Canrobert con- 
tracts :his defence against the new attack, 
276 ; his defences are forced, and the 
French retire into Met^, 277 '1 causes of the 
loss of the battle, 277-8 ; numbgrj and losses 
on both sides, 27S, and *tote ■ blockade of 
Metz, 279. 


M'Mahon had it in his power to march on 
Paris, 280 ; the Empress and the Count of 
Palikao determine that for dynastic reasons 
he' shall not do so, 280-1 ; marches and 
countermarches of M'IMahon, 2S1 ; the 




troojjs lose confidence, 282-3 ; rumours re- 
garding the German movements, 283 ; 
counter marches to Le Chene, and tele- 
graphs the reasons to Bazaine and to Paris, 
284 ; is ordered by the Regency to march on 
Montmddy, 284 ; the Emperor understands 
that he is to be sacrificed, 284 ; M'Mahon 
obeys, 284 ; difficulties and terrors of the 
march, 285-9 > finally takes post before 
Sedan, 289 ", movement of the German 
columns to cut off M'Mahon, 289-90; the 
nature of the ground before, 290-1 ; numbers 
of the two armies, 291 ; the battle of, begins, 
291 ; the Bavarians attack Bazeilles, and, 
after a desperate resistance, storm it, 292 ; 
the Germans make their way, 292 ; M'Mahon 
is wounded and makes over command to 
Ducrot, 292 ; who desires to retreat on 
Mezieres, when he has to make over com- 
mand to Wimpffen, 293 ; the Germans press 
home their advantages, 293-4 ; Napoleon on 
his own responsibility hoists the white flag, 
his heart bleeding, 294 ; Wimpffen, convinced 
at last that no alternative remains, interviews 
Moltke and Bismarck, 294 ; the conditions 
of the surrender accepted, 295 ; whose was 
the fault ? 295. 

The last Phases of the War. 

The Parisians vent their fury on the dynasty, 
269 ; but resolve to continue the war 
a, I'outrance, 297 ; Sedan closes the first 
phase of the war, 298 ; Bazaine feebly 
attempts to break out from Metz, 298 ; but 
is foiled, 299 ; the Germans press on towards 
Paris, 299-300 ; number of troops available 
in Paris, 300 ; commanders of the several 
corps, Ducrot, Thomas, Vinoy, 301 ; Ducrot 
is repulsed in a sortie, 301 ; the Germans 
post themselves at Versailles, 302 ; more 
German troops arrive, 302 ; Vinoy makes a 
sortie out, is repulsed, 302 ; a third sortie 
shares the same fate, 303 ; and a fourth, 303 ; 
Bazaine surrenders Metz, 304-5, and note; 
Gambetta leaves Paris in a balloon, 305-6 ; 
displays great fertility of resources, 306 ; 
consequences of the fall of Metz, 306-7 ; 
strength and composition of the armies 
raised by Gambetta, 306 ; easy advantages 
of, 307 ; neutralised by the reinforcements 
available to the Germans by the capture of 
Metz and other places, 307-8 ; Germans 
defeated at Coulmiers, but attack Aurelle 
again, defeat him, and occupy Orleans, 307 ; 
Gambetta removes Aurelle, and gives one 
army to Bourbaki, the other to Chanzy, 
307-8 ; Chanzy eventually beaten, 30S ; 
Faidherbe experiences the same fate ; 308-9 ; 
Bourbaki, after experiencing many diffi- 
culties, attempts suicide, 310-11 ; the army of, 
now commanded by Clinchant, is disarmed 
in Switzerland, 311 ; Paris left to her own 
resources, 311 ; Thiers is authorised to con- 
clude peace, 311 ; associated with Jules 
Favre signs preliminaries, 312; Conclusion 
of the War, 312-13 ; Result of, to Germany, 

Frankfort, effect of the Revolution of 1848 in, 
8 ; the thinkers of Germany flock to, in 1848, 

15 ; the ante-parliament is constituted at, 

16 ; the National Constitutional Assembly is 
formed at, 16 ; vide National Constitutional 
Assembly, Peace of. Terms of the, 311-3. 

Frederic, Crown Prince of Prussia, appointed 
to command the 2d Army in 1866, previous 
career and character of, ii5 ; vide War of 
1866, 119-173 ; gains the combat of Weissen- 
burg and the battle of Worth, 234 ; vide 
Franco-German War, The, 226, and on- 

Frederic Charles, Prince, commands the Prus- 
sians in the Danish War, 87-8 ; carries Dane- 
werke, only through the assistance of General 
Gablenz, 88 ; besieges Diippel, 88 ; and takes 
it, 8g ; previous career of, 115 ; vide War of 
1866, 1 19-173 ; vide also Franco-German 
War, The, 226 and onwards. 

Frederic William IV., King, vide, Prussia. 

Frossard, General, vide Franco-German War, 
The, 242 onwards. 

Fyffe's Modern Europe, regarding the Zollver- 
ein, 37-S ; regarding Prussia's action before 
and during the Crimean War, 47, note ; io5, 
}tote ; regarding the Franco-Prussian War, 
nates to 218-221, and last page. 


Gabel, vide War of 1866, 134. 

Gablenz, General, by his flank attack enables 
Prince Frederic Charles to take Missunde 
(the left of the Danewerke), 87-8; takes 
Schleswig, and defeats the Danes at Oever- 
see, 88 ; order by method of administration 
in Holstein, 100 ; vide War of 1866, 119-73. 

Gambetta leaves Paris to organise defence in 
the provinces, 305 ; vide Franco-German 
War, 306 to end. 

Gastein, treaty of, Bismarck forces the, on 
Austria, 92-5 ; clauses of the, 95-6, the plain 
English of the, 96. 

Germanic Federation, The, (The Bund) 
planned by five German Powers in 1814, 6 ; is 
promulgated in 1815, 7 ; unsatisfactory nature 
of, 7 ; displays only a genius for Austrian 
predominance, 8; is shaken to the dust by the 
revolution of 184S, 8 ; The Diet of, ceases to 
meet for three years, 9 ; is then galvanised 
into life by Felix Schwarzenberg, 9 ; King 
William of Prussia attempts the reform of, 
69 ; plan of the Emperor of Austria to reform 
the Bund rejected, 80 ; the decisions of, with 
regard to Schleswig-Holstein, set aside by 
Austria and Prussia, 84-5 ; appealed to by 
Austria, the Diet decides, by nine votes to six, 
in her favour, 106. 

Germany, by the fall of Napoleon, had ex- 
changed one tj'ranny for another, 15 ; intel- 
lect of, represented at Frankfort in 1848, 15 ; 
feeling throughout, on the eve of the war of 
1866, 109-11; ziide War of 1866, 119-190; 
reasons why, after 1866, war had become 
almost a necessity for, 208-9 > state of the 
armies of, in 1870, 226 ; vide Franco-German 
War, The, 226 to end. 

Gitschin, ziide War of 1866, 134 ; description of, 
141, and further. 



Goeben, General, vide The War of 1866, 
pages 122-174, a"d 184-187. Vide also 
Franco-German War, pages 247 onwards. 

Goltz, General von, well-inspired conduct of, 
at Colombey, 257, vide Franco-German War, 
The ; 257 and onwards. 

Gramont, Duke of, vide Hohenzollern Incident, 
The, 210-221. 


Habsburg, The House of, gives Emperors to 
the Holy Roman Empire, 2 ; representative 
of that empire in the revoluntary period, 2. 

Hanover refuses permission to the ruler of 
Prussia to traverse her country for the pur- 
pose of connecting ilinden with Jadebusen, 
57 ; vide War of 1866, 119-130. 

Henderson's, Major, The Battle of Spicheren 
quoted, 223, 4-6 ; 241, 6-9 ; 254. 

Hesse-Cassel, affairs of, in 1848, 30-32 ; rivalry 
of Austria and Prussia in, 29-33. 

Hohenzollern Incident, The, General Prim 
pitches upon Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern 
as a candidate for the throne of Spain, 210-1 ; 
they reach the ears of the French Emperor, 
but the matter is explained, 211 ; revives in 
1870, 211 ; turmoil in Paris, fanned by the 
Duke of Gramont, 212 ; Napoleon does not 
wish for war, 212 ; his war minister, Lebo;uf, 
213 ; determination of Moltke, Bismarck and 
von Roon, to force on a war, 214-5 ; the 
Duke of Gramont aids them, 215 ; Benedetti 
rnid the King of Prussia smooth away all 
ditficulties, 215-6 ; Gramont still for war, 
216-7 ; his despatch gives the Berlin triad 
their opportunity, 217 ; they spread abroad, 
especially in Paris, false news, 218-9 > which 
e.xcite the Parisians to a point beyond con- 
trol, 219-20 ; the peace party are forced to 
give way, 220 ; and the Emperor is forced 
to declare war, 220-1. 

Hozier's The Seven Weeks' War, 141, 4, 6, 9. 
153- 183. 

Hiihnerwasser, vide War of j865. 

Hungary, rising and submission of, in 1848-g, 
9-20 ; a factor against Austri.a in the War 
of 1866, 109-190 ; reconciliation of, with 
Austria, 204 ; opposes active alliance with 
France against Prussia, 206. 


Italy, anxiety of, to obtain the cession of 
Rome and Venetia, 97 ; signs an offensive 
and defensive treaty with Prussi.a, 102 ; vide 
La Marmora, 103-7 i vide, also. The War of 
1866, 176-82 ; obtains the cession of Venetia, 
190 ; understanding of, with Austria, 207 ; 
policy of, on the outbreak of the Franco- 
German War, 229-30. 

Italy, Northern, revolts from the Austrian 
yoke, 9, 20 ; succumbs, 20 ; assists England 
and France in the Crimean War, 48 ; recon- 
stitutes Italy in alliance with France in 
1859. 56. 


John, The Freiherr Franz von, chief of the 
staffto the Archduke Albert in Italy, vide The 
War of 1866, 175-82. 


Kamf.cke, General von, attack of, on Rother- 

berg, vide Franco-German War, The, 241 

and onwards. 
Karolyi, Count, strange interview of, v/ith 

Bismarck, loi. 
Koniggratz, The battle of, vide War of 1S66, 

pages 154-174, consequences of, 188. 

La M,\rmora, General de, asks Austria to 
cede Venetia for money, 97, 103-4 i but is 
refused, 104 ; refuses in his turn to accept 
Venetia as the price of Italy's neutrality, 
105 ; signs an offensive and defensive treaty 
with Prussia against Austria, 102 ; vide The 
War of 1866, 176-1S2. 

Langensalza, campaign and battle of, 119-130; 
note to 147, vide War of 1866. 

Laveaucoupet, General, action of, at Spicheren, 
vide Franco-German War, 246-50, and note. 

Leboeuf, Marshal, sketch of, vide Hohenzollern 
Incident, The, 210-21. 

Lowenfeld, General von, vide War of 1866, 

Leopold, Archduke, vide War of 1866, 150-2. 

Luxemburg, Story of the attempt of Napoleon 
III. to obtain Luxemburg, 201-3, 205. 

Liebenau, vide War of 1866, 137. 


M'Mahon, Marshal, e'/V^ Franco-German War, 
The, 225-235 ; movement of, after his defeat 
at Worth ; march to and battle at Sedan, 
vide Franco-German War, The, 280-95, is 
severely wounded, and makes over command 
to Ducrot, 292. 

Malet's Overthrow of the Germanic Confedera- 
tion by Prussia in i860, notes to loi, 104, 107, 
no, 121, 127, 187, sXiA p'-efacc. 

Mannheim, liberal meetings at, prior to the 
revolution of 184S, 8. 

Manteuffel, Count, confidential whispers 
to the King of Prussia, 33 ; is appointed 
minister, and negotiates the surrender 
of Olmiitz, 33 ; reactionary policy of, 35-6 ; 
administers the foreign affairs of Prussia 
in a manner humiliating to the country, 36-7, 
43-4 ; is dismissed by the Regent, 53. 

Manteuffel, General, son of preceding, main- 
tains strict discipline in Schleswig, 100 ; vide 
War of 1866, 119-174, and 184-187 ; vide 
also Franco-German War, The, 306 to end. 

Marbot, General, contemporaneous opinion 
of, regarding the Federation of the Rhine, 6. 

Martin's Life of the Prince Consort, regarding 
Prussia's action on the eve of the Crimean 
War, 47 

32 + 


Mecklenburg-Schwerin, The Grand Duke of, 
operations of, against the French in 1870, 

Mensdorf- Pouilly, Count, succeeds Count 
Rechberg as Foreign Minister at Vienna ; 
character of, 104. 

Met7, Battles before, and surrender of, vide 
Franco-German War, The, pages, 255-79 > 
and 304-5. 

Mexican Expedition, injurious effect of the, to 
Napoleon III., 195-211. 

Moltke, von, previous career of, 112-4; char- 
acter of, 114-5 ; the real director of the move- 
ments of the Prussian army in 1866, 114; 
vide War of 1866, 119-188 ; vide Hohen- 
zollern Incident, The, 210-221 ; vide further 
Franco-German War, 230 to end. 

Montmedy, M'Mahon's march on, 280-291, 
and its consequences, 291-5. 

MUnchengriitz, vide War of 1866, 135 and 


Nachod, vide War of 1866, 150. 

Napoleon Bonaparte turns the tide against 
Germany, 2 ; grants the peace of Luneville, 
2 ; regrets his moderation, 3 ; becomes Em- 
peror of the French, 3 ; defeats Austria in 
1805 and forces on her the peace of Press- 
burg, 3 ; devises the plan of the ' Confedera- 
tion of the Rhine,' 44. 

Napoleon III. wages the Crimean war in 
alliance with England, 46-8 ; wages the war 
of 1849, in alliance with Sardinia, 33-6 ; has 
an abortive interview with the Prince-Regent 
of Prussia in June i860, 64 ; reflections on 
the conduct of, with respect to the Schleswig- 
Holstein War, 89-90 ; is cornpletely hum- 
bugged by Bismarck at Biarritz, 97-9 ; pro- 
position made by, to Austria, Prussia, and 
Italy, 105 ; is the plaything of Bismarck, 
io5 ; disappointment of, at the early termina- 
tion of the Austro-Prussian war, 189 ; hopes 
still entertained by, 192-3 ; professions of, 
before the war, 194 ; begins to feel that he 
has been dirped, 195-6 " again plays the 
game of Bismarck, 197-203 ; until Bismarck 
breaks with him, 203 ; is baffled by Bismarck 
in his attempt to gain Luxemburg, 201-3 ; is 
forced by the United States to eat the leek, 
202 ; courts Austria, 205-6 ; alliances made 
by, only shadowy, 206-7; still tries to assert 
the prestige of France, 209 ; is prematurely 
old, 209 ; results to, of the plebiscite, 210 ; 
vide Hohenzollern Incident, The, 210-21 ; 
declares war against Prussia, 222 ; vide 
Franco-German War, page 222 ; hopes of, 
227-31 ; joins the army, 231 ; plans of, 231 ; 
pronounced impossible, 232 ; affair of, _ at 
Saarbrlicken, 232-3 ; conduct of, on hearing 
of the past disasters, 234 ; and of Worth, 
238 ; transfers the command to Bazaine and 
joins M'lMahon, 256 ; lost communication of, 
to Bazaine, 256 ; powerlessness of, in the 
presence of the orders of the Empress-Re- 
gent, 280-1 ; understands that he is to be sacri- 
ficed, and the reason, 284 ; courts death at 
the battle of Sedan, 292 ; is sent prisoner to 
Wilhelmshohe, 295. 

National Assembly, The, of Frankfort, con- 
stituted in 1848, 16-17; appoints Archduke 
John of Austria to be regent of the Empire ; 
dilatory proceedings of, and their causes, 
17 , elects Frederic William IV. to be Ger- 
man Emperor, 18 ; consternation of, at his 
refusal, 23-4 ; succumbs and dissolves itself, 
25 ; reflections on the mistakes of, 26. 

Needle-gun, The, origin of, 40-41 ; is accepted, 
after many trials, by Prussia, 42-3. 

Nickolsburg, Armistice of, 189-91. 


Olliver, Emile, vide Hohenzollern Incident, 
210-221 ; is forced to resign, 256, 

Olmiitz, The edict of, explains the policy of 
Austria in 1849, 21-2 ; the treaty, called the 
surrender of, forced on Prussia, 33. 

Orleans, fighting at and near, in 1870, 306-7. 


Palikao, Montauban, Count of, is appointed 
Minister-President in France, 256 ; combines 
with the Empress-Regent to prevent 
M'Mahon's march on Paris, 2S0-1 ; orders 
M'lMahon to march on Montmedy, 284. 

Paris combines with Bismarck to cause the 
war of 1870, 219 ; expels the Napoleonic 
dynasty, 300 ; siege of, vide Franco-German 
War, The, 300 ar.d onwards. 

Podol, vide War of 1866, 139. 

Prague, Treaty of, 191. 

Prausnitz, the two villages of, vide War of 1866, 

'48-. . ... 

Prussia, King Frederic WiUiam IV. of, 
character of, 10 ; conduct of, in Berlin 
in 1848, 11-13; private opinion of, 14; 
position of, 14 ; hails the chance of 
intervening in the affairs of Schleswig- 
Holstein, 15 ; is elected by the National 
Assembly of Frankfort to be German 
Emperor, 18 ; position of Frederic William 
in Prussia, 18-20 ; is dazed by the recovery 
of Austria, 20 ; hesitations caused in the 
mind of, by the policy of Austria, 20-23 > 
refuses the proffered crown of Germany, 23 ; 
dismisses the Prussian parliament, 24 ; hopes 
to obtain supreme power in Germany by 
other means, 27-8 ; shuffling character of, 
29 ; has his cause pleaded before the Czar, 
who gives it against him, 32 ; succumbs to 
Austria, 33 ; appoints Manteuffel minister, 
33 ; succumbs all round, 34 ; baffles the 
attempt of Austria to enter the ZoUverein, 
38-40 ; internal policy of, reactionary, 43 ; ex- 
ternal policy of, humiliating, 43-4; proposi- 
tion of, on the eve of the Crimean War, 
properly rejected, 45 ; slavish devotion of, to 
the Czar, 46-7 ; hatred of, of Napoleon III., 
47 ; institutes a foreign policy of isolation, 
47 ; is refused participation in the initiatory 
stages of the discussions for peace, 48 ; is 
seized with a cerebral disorder, and hands 
over affairs to his brother, 49. For the re- 
maining history of Prussia, see King William. 



Prussian Parliament, The, receives unfavour- 
ably the army reforms of Von Roon, 62 ; the 
Regent acts in spite of them, 63 ; receives 
with no great favour the speech from the 
throne, 66-7 ; again opposes the military 
budget, 70 ; is dissolved by Bismarck, 74-5 ; 
re-assembles in a resolute mood, 75 ; and 
opposing Government, is prorogued, 77 ; re- 
fuses supplies for an attack on the duchies, 
84 ; the new supports the policy of the old, 
86-7 ; still opposes the King in 1866, and is 
dismissed after a session of eight days, 11 1. 

Prussian Army, The, efforts of the King and 
Von Roon to reorganise, 62, 63, 74, 76, iii ; 
members of on the eve of the war of 1866, 
III, vide War of iS65, 119-73; state of, in 
1S70, 226, vide Franco-Prussian War, 226 
and onwards. 


Ramming, General von, vide War of 1S66, 

Rechberg, Count, Foreign Minister of Austria, 
is duped by Bismarck, 83. 

Reichenberg, vide War of 1866, 136. 

Revolution of 1848, The, shakes every State in 
Germany, 8 ; 

Roman Empire, The Holy, Duration of, 1 ; 
succession to, devolves on Francis II., 2 ; 
ceases to exist, 4. 

Roon, Theodore Emil, Count von, is appointed 
Minister of War, 58 ; previous career of, 59- 
60 ; the third of the illustrious triad, 61 ; plans 
of, for forming an efficient army, 62 ; are 
badly received by the Prussian Parliament, 
62-3 ; persists in them, 63 ; again, 74 ; and 
again, 76 ; brings the Prussian army into a 
state of perfection, iii ; vide Hohenzollern 
Incident, The, 210-221. 

Rotherberg. The description of, and fight for, 
vide Franco-German War, Ihe, 241 and 

Saarbrucken, combat at, 233 ; the ridge of, 
vide Franco-German War, The, 241 and 

Schleswig-Holstein, position of the duchies of, 
in 1848, 14 ; Prussia supports, against Den- 
mark, and then signs an armistice, 15-34 ; 
re-opening of the question, 81 ; action of 
Bismarck and Austria with respect to, 
82-5 ; war declared, 85 ; concluded by the 
cession of, with Lauenberg, to Austria and 
Prussia, 91 ; becomes the lever by which 
Bismarck endeavours to oust Austria from 
Germany, 91-107. 

Schwarzenberg, Prince Felix, q ; share of, 
in the re-habitation of Austria, 20 ; tries to 
prevent the ascendency of Prussia, 21 ; dar- 
ing measures adopted by, to this end, 22 ; 
supports his policy with a tried army, 28 ; 
finds the pear ripe, 29 ; obtains the assent of 
Czar, 32 ; and strikes the blow which for 
twelve years placed Prussia in a position of 
inferiority, 33-4 ; death of, 37. 

Sedan, the march to, and the battle before, 
vide Franco-German War, 279 and onwards. 

Steinmetz, General von, vide War of 1866, 
page 150 and onwards ; at Spicheren, vide 
241-254; at Gravelotte. 64-78. 


Thiers, M., is authorised to conclude peace, 

311 ; concludes it, 312-13. 
Trautenau, vide War of 1866, 146. 
Trochu, General, takes the lead in the defence 

of Paris, 301. 
Turnau, 136. 


Venetia, mode in which Austria first obtained 
possession of, 103 ; Austria refuses to cede, 
for money, 104 ; vide La Marmora, 103-7 > 
ceded to Italy, 190. 

Victor Emanuel, King of Italy, vide the War 
of 1866, 175-82. 


War of 1866, The, long and persistent eflforts 
of Bismarck to bring about, 82-108 ; general 
feeling in Germany on the eve of, 107-10 ; 
condition of the hostile forces, in; the 
Prussian Government notifies to its generals 
that the war has begun, 119 ; position of the 
Prussian armies, 119-20; of the Austrian 
armies, 120; of the Bund armies, 121; 
Prussia makes a dash at Hanover, 121 ; 
condition of Hanover, 121, and notes; 
Prussia carries all before her, 122 ; the Hano- 
verian army is brought into a condition in 
which it can move, 122 ; distribution of the 
Hanoverian army, 124; possibilities before 
it, 123 ; the Prussians are gathering round 
it, and have one corps in front of it, 124 ; the 
Hanoverians push on, 124 ; are deluded by 
Prussian trickery to halt between Langen- 
salza and Eisenach, and to remain there the 
next day, 125 ; position of the Prussian 
forces, 125 ; the King of Hanover feels that 
he has been .entrapped, 125; receives no 
assistance but only advice from Prince 
Charles of Bavaria, 126, and note ; the 
Hanoverian army takes post at Langensalza, 
126 ; is attacked there by the Prussians, 127 ; 
whom it defeats with loss, 128 ; question 
arises whether to push on into Thuringia, 
128 ; the King prefers to negotiate, 129 ; and 
Hanover surrenders to Prussia, 129; enor- 
mous advantages to Prussia, 129-30; Prussian 
troops enter and occupy electoral Hesse ; 
130-1 ; the armies of Bavaria and the Bund, 
133 ; the story turns to Bohemia, 134. 

The Campaign in Bohemia. 
Prince Frederic Charles moves towards Git- 
.schin, 134; Von Bittenfeld makes forGabel, 
134 ; Benedek moves from Olmiitz, 135 ; 
plans of Benedek, 135 ; how Moltke regards 
them, 135 ; Clam-Gallas is posted at Miin- 
chengratz, 135 ; Frederic Charles occupies 
Reichenberg, 136 ; drives the Austrian 
skirmishers from Liebenau, 137 ; fights the 
combat of Podol, 138; gallantry of the 




Aubtrians, 138 ; Von Bittenfeld drives the 
Austrian skirmishers from HUhnerwasser, 
140 ; Clam-Gallas abandons IMiinchengratz 
and falls back on Gitschin, 140-1 ; Rear- 
guard combat, 141 : fights there a severe 
combat, when he is ordered by Benedek to 
fall back on the main army, 142-4 ; plans of 
the Crown Prince for entering Bohemia from 
Silesia, 145 ; Benedek badly served by his 
intelligence department, 145 ; Von Benin's 
corps marches on Trautenau, 146 ; is beaten 
by Gablenz, 147 ; the Prince of Wiirtemberg 
resolves to avenge him, 147 ; mistake made 
by Fleischacher with respect to the two 
villages called ' Prausnitz,' 148-49 ; conse- 
quent_ defeat of Gablenz, 148-49 ; the 
Prussian Guards occupy Koniginhof, 149; 
Benedek directs Ramming to smite the 
Prussian force as it issues from Nachod, 150 ; 
severe combat of Nachod and victory of the 
Prussians, 150-52 ; who force the Austrians to 
retire on Josephstadt, 152; opposite prin- 
ciples on which the rival armies acted, 153 ; 
Benedek concentrates his army, 156 ; posi- 
tion taken by, near Koniggratz, 156 ; strength 
and weakness of position, 158; Benedek re- 
moves his chief of the staff on the morning 
of the battle and replaces him by a new man. 
159 ; movements of the Prussian army from 
July I, 159; Prince Frederic Charles re- 
solves to attack, 160-1 ; makes no impression, 
162-4 j the Prussian leaders begin to doubt 
the result, 164-5, 16S-9 ; movements of the 
Crown-Prince, 165 ; the Prussian Guards 
reach Choteborek and get a view of the 
position, i65 ; the first division drive the 
. Austrians from Recitz, 167 ; they prepare to 
attack Chlum and Rosberitz, 167-8 ; a hap- 
hazard movement on the Austrian right-rear 
induces Benedek to denude Chlum, 170 ; this 
movement, followed by the attack of the 
Prussian Guards, decides the battle, 171 ; 
genera! advance of the Prussians 172-3 ; the 
Austrians retreat on Hohenmauth, 173 ; the 
defeat a decisive one, 174. 

Tlie lVa7- in Italy. 
Forces at the disposal of the King of Italy, 
176; the Italians cross the Mincio, 176; in- 
ferior strength of the Austrian army, 179 ; 
brilliant movement of the same, 180; takes 
the Italian army in detail and by surprise, 
180 ; and defeats it, capturing Custoza, 182 ; 
the Austrians always superior at the de- 
cisive points, 182. 

Tlie War in Bavaria. 

The Bund and Bavarian armies and their com- 
manders, 182-83 ; insulting refusal of Prince 
Charles of Bavaria to assist Hanover, 183, 
and note ; the Prussians form the army of the 
Main, 53,000 strong, under Vogel von Fal- 
kenstein, Manteuffel, Goeben, and Beyer, 
184 ; Beyer fights a cavalry combat at Derm- 
bach, 185; Goeben catches the Bavarian 

army at Kissingen, 185 ; Falkenstein dashes 
on Aschaffenburg, and smites the enemy at 
Fronhefen and Laufach, 185 ; Manteuffel 
replaces Falkenstein and outmanoeuvres the 
enemy on the Main, 186 ; gallantry of Von 
Hardegg, 186 ; imbecility of Prince Charles 
of Bavaria, 187 ; is followed close when 
news of an armistice arrives, 187 ; reflections 
on Prince Charles of Bavaria. 

The end of the War. 

Position of the armies of the two nations after 
Koniggratz, 188 ; action of the French 
Emperor, 189 ; critical position of Austria, 
igi ; Austria accepts the conditions of the 
Armistice of Nikolsburg, 190-91 ; followed by 
the peace of Prague, 191-92. 

Weissenburg, Combat of, 234-6. 

William, King of Prussia, becomes Stell- 
vertreter of his brother in 1857, 49 ; previous 
career of, 49-51 ; character of, 51-3 ; is 
nominated Regent and appoints new minis- 
ters, 53 ; action of, with reference to the 
Franco-Italian War, 536 ; proposals of, to 
Austria, rejected, 54-7 ; also to Hanover, 57 ; 
recognises the absolute necessity of organis- 
ing an efficient army, 57 ; plans of, for that 
purpose, 57 ; selects Count von Roon to 
carry them out, 58 ; supports Von Roon in 
his contest with the Prussian Parliament, 63 ; 
interviews Napoleon III., and baffles him, 
63-5 ; his policy, the peaceful re-assertion ot 
Prussia's influence, 65 ; becomes King by 
the death of his brother, 66 ; manly speech 
of, to Parliament, 66 ; opposition of Parlia- 
ment, 67 ; mistrust of, in Prussia, 68 ; 
attempt to assassinate, 68 ; urges reform of 
the Bund, 69 ; refuses to submit to the votes 
on the military budget of the Lower House, 
70 ; appoints Count von Bismarck to be his 
chief minister, 70; supports his ministers in 
their struggle with Parliament, 74-7 ; is will- 
ing to accept the plan of the reform proposed 
by Austria, but is persuaded by Bismarck to 
refuse it, 80 ; supports Bismarck in his over- 
riding of the Parliament, 86-7 ; obtains by 
war, conjointly with Austria, the cession of 
Holstein, Schleswig, and Lauenberg, 91 ; 
allies of, in the war of 1S66, 107-8 ; unpopu- 
larity of the war in the dominions of, loS, 
and note to 109 ; vide War of 1866, 119-188 ; 
advantages gained bj', for Prussia, by the 
War of iS56, 192-93 ; is personally a stranger 
to the lower intrigues of Bismarck, 209 ; vide 
the Hohenzollern Incident, 210-221. 

Worth, Battle of, 235-8. 


Zastrow, General von, vide Franco-German 

War, The, 248. 
Zollverein, The, efl'ects of the institution of, 

between 1828 and 1836, 37 ; extension of, 38 ; 

eff'orts made by Austria to enter, 386 ; bafl!led 

by Prussia, 39-40. 



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THE INDIAN MUTINY OF 1857. By Colonel 
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Professor Vernon Harcourt. With many Illustrations. 


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Portraits on Copper. 

Portraits on Copper. 

THE OPENING OF JAPAN. With Illustrations. 
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DEAN SWIFT. His Life and Writings. By 

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